This project is focusing on how we can quickly and easily detect biosecurity threats through the international ornamental fish trade.
The ornamental fish trade in Australia has an estimated value of about $350 million, with 12 to 14 million fish imported each year. Of the 37 established alien fish species, 25 are though to have arrived via the ornamental fish trade and species used in this industry are now the main source of new introductions. Alien fish species impact on native fishes through predation, competition, habitat change, disease spread, and potential for hybridisation and introgression. The best approach to prevention of further alien fish introductions is to have a border detection system that can immediately and accurately identify pests and diseases present in shipments.
The ornamental fish trade is an ideal system for multi-species detection technology using eDNA, as the DNA from both the fish present and any potential pathogens are contained within a relatively small amount of water. It is likely that DNA will be very concentrated in these samples as the fish experience stress during transportation. Also, this is a great example of a commodity importation that could harbour a range of unidentifiable risks.
The aims of this project are to:
This project receives funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment through the Biosecurity Innovation Program
August 2020 update:
Environmental DNA (eDNA) samples have been collected from an international aquarium trade wholesaler and sequenced and analysed using the Illumina Miseq and the Oxford Nanopore MinION portable sequencer, which is forming the basis of a DNA reference database. Standard operating procedures have been developed to prepare metabarcoding libraries for Illumina and Nanopore sequencing platforms applicable to high priority species.