Fishing for DNA

Scientists are rapidly developing new DNA-methods to identify what kind of life is present in rivers, lakes and the ocean. Advocates of the method claim that it has the potential to revolutionise the way environmental monitoring is done.

Enter the Mekong giant catfish. When scientists and conservationists in Southeast Asia wanted to test the eDNA method to target a threatened species in tropical waters, this enormous animal – the largest freshwater fish in the world – was an obvious choice. Despite many local people viewing the catfish as a sacred animal, the species has been decimated in recent years, likely due to overfishing and habitat degradation, with conservation organisations now categorising the once-thriving fish as ‘critically endangered’.

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Uffe Wilken