Salford researchers on the trail of shark DNA in the Caribbean

Tuesday 10 March 2015
Salford researchers on the tracks of shark DNA in the Caribbean
Salford researchers on the tracks of shark DNA in the Caribbean

A team of researchers from the School of Environment & Life Sciences are pioneering the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) to assess and monitor shark biodiversity in Caribbean marine ecosystems.

The project, led by Professor Stefano Mariani, Chair in Conservation Genetics, is funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts Ocean Science Programme and supports the PhD studies of postgraduate student Judith Bakker.

During a recent research trip to Bimini, Bahamas, Judith and a group of leading shark conservationists were joined by Sir Richard Branson, who is helping to raise the profile of ongoing efforts to protect these predators, which keep the ecological balance of the oceans in check.

The use of eDNA, which relies on the isolation and screening of trace DNA shed by organisms in the water, may prove crucial in streamlining and speeding up the process of detecting and characterising shark biodiversity over vast stretches of marine habitats.

The research is also to become the basis of a documentary, thanks to the collaboration between Stefano, Judith and Salford’s MA Wildlife Documentary Production students Matthew Leiper, Cristina Ramasco and Nicolo’ Roccatagliata (pictured above).