A while ago I have posted on the prospects of environmental DNA probes when it comes to the detection of invasive species. Now researchers from the Central Michigan University presented yet another real-time, DNA-based testing method to detect invasive species. The research team successfully applied laser transmission spectroscopy (LTS) to detect species-specific DNA.
LTS is a quantitative and rapid technology for measuring the size, shape, and number of nanoparticles in a solution (see box for details). Because of this biding specificity, LTS is capable of distinguishing closely related species that differ by as few as 7 bp in a 32 bp species-specific gene region.
The group carried out a series of DNA detection (utilizing the DNA Barcode region) experiments using the invasive freshwater quagga mussel (Dreissena bugensis) to evaluate the capability of the LTS platform and its sensitivity. For the latter they extrapolated a concentration range for potential detection down to the picomolar range which makes the method very suitable for eDNA detection.
The researchers say this new easy-to-use, inexpensive technology paves the way for field-based identification of harmful species in samples from ships' ballast water, ports and other at-risk areas before contamination spreads into aquatic ecosystems.