e-DNA tags eel

Alexander ScottPilbara News
Scientists have detected the Blind Cave Eel in eight Pilbara locations
Camera IconScientists have detected the Blind Cave Eel in eight Pilbara locations

Can you tell what creature this is? Well he can’t tell what you are!

Researchers at the University of Adelaide and Curtin University were able to detect the blind cave eel in five new Pilbara sites through new testing techniques to search for aquatic animals through the DNA they shed in the water. The species-specific tests work by sequencing the mitochondrial genome of an individual species and rely on environmental DNA in the water called eDNA.

The blind cave eel, pictured, is the biggest of three cave fish species in Australia, growing up to 40cm long. It exists in subterranean groundwater systems of the northern Carnarvon Basin and the Robe River catchment in north-western Australia.

Curtin University’s Trace and Environmental DNA scientist Dr Nicole White said the new species-specific test meant the blind cave eel could be detected without the need to catch the animal.

“Detection of rare species in their environment can be challenging ... and our results show eDNA can offer conservation agencies an additional monitoring tool to augment existing approaches,” she said.

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