THE 5th UK DNA Working Group Meeting took place at the University of Salford today, to discuss the development of DNA research.

People and organisations involved with environmental DNA from around the globe visited the University of Salford for an annual conference.

The DNA Working Group provides an open forum for many academics and agencies to take part in, share and discuss research methods of DNA development.

The DNA Working group was established in 2014 to allow and learn about the development and understanding of DNA identification methods, but ultimately to better understand the environment for the future without invasive technology.

Stefano Mariani, Marine ecologist at the University of Salford and host of the event, said: “This is the 5th event held by UK DNA Working Group and so far it’s been the highest attended.

“One of the things that the DNA Working Group is trying to do is showing people that there are constantly new sequences of DNA and that every living organism has DNA which can be used as a tool.

“Now we know that we lose DNA all the time, in a very similar way to when the police investigate a crime scene, we can retrieve the DNA to identify an invasive species or record data about an environmental community without capturing or harming the organisms.”

“One of the key aspects to using these DNA approaches is that no species comes under stress when collecting data or capturing the species. But, for example, if we want to compare a protected area to a non-protected area or an area that has been affected by pollution or disaster, then DNA raking or collecting would be the most appropriate and harm-free way to investigate that area.

“Ultimately using DNA samples is makes a big difference – it’s a game changer.”

People from organisations such as, Nature Metrics, The UK Environment Agency, and Marine Scotland Science attended the event to help researchers from The University of Salford, Hull and Bristol to ensure that the methods are to industry standard.

Stefano continued to voice how important such organisations are to researchers today: “Very crucially we want future DNA Working Group conferences not to just be an academic exercise. We have the opportunity to exchange all our data with the Environment Agency, Marine Scotland and all the agencies who are here to use and are responsible for regulating strategies – in the long run we all feel like we’re helping the real world by using more enhanced methods.”

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