An autonomous vehicle coupled with a robotic laboratory proves its worth

phys.org | 7/19/2019 | Staff
stefania (Posted by) Level 3
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Every drop of seawater contains thousands of cells that can reveal the diversity of life in our ocean. Using a self-contained robotic laboratory and an autonomous underwater vehicle, MBARI scientists and engineers are developing advanced collection techniques that may one day simplify the jobs of biologists and resource managers.

A recent study confirms that autonomously collected samples of environmental DNA (eDNA) are equivalent to samples collected by people using traditional, manual methods. eDNA refers to all of the DNA that can be extracted from an environmental sample, including from a myriad of microorganisms and larger animals via particles of skin, mucus, and waste that they shed.

Body - Research - Wildlife - Surveys - Analyses

A growing body of research indicates that wildlife surveys using eDNA analyses can be as (or more) accurate than simply using traditional methods. As such, eDNA assessments appear to offer a very promising and cost-effective means for monitoring biodiversity, which presents an attractive proposition for researchers as well as resource managers who study ocean ecosystems.

Previous research in this field has focused on sampling specifics such as the types of filters that are used to concentrate eDNA from water samples or the methods for analyzing and interpreting eDNA signals found within those samples. It is still a major challenge to understand how researchers can apply eDNA analytical techniques over large expanses of ocean or over long periods of time. At present, eDNA surveys in the open sea require extensive ship time, which is expensive, labor intensive, and limiting.

Issues - Authors - Study - Generation - MBARI

To address those issues, the authors of the new study used a new generation of MBARI's Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) and paired it with MBARI's long-range autonomous underwater vehicle (LRAUV).

The ESP is a compact robotic laboratory that automates the collection and processing of water samples. The version used in this study can acquire up to 60 samples. The LRAUV carries...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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