Publications: Peer-reviewed journal articles (by staff)
Considerations for incorporating real-time PCR assays into routine marine biosecurity surveillance programmes: a case study targeting the Mediterranean fanworm (Sabella spallanzanii) and club tunicate
Wood SA, Pochon X, Ming W, von Ammon U, Woods C, Carter M, Smith, Inglis G and Zaiko A 2019. Considerations for incorporating real-time PCR assays into routine marine biosecurity surveillance programmes: a case study targeting the Mediterranean fanworm (Sabella spallanzanii) and club tunicate (Styela clava). Genome, 62(3): 137-146
DOI link here
Molecular techniques may provide effective tools to enhance marine biosecurity surveillance. Prior to routine implementation, evidence-based consideration of their benefits and limitations is needed. In this study, we assessed the efficiency and practicality of visual diver surveys and real-time PCR assays (targeting DNA and RNA) for detecting two marine invasive species whose infestation levels varied between species and location; Sabella spallanzanii and Styela clava. Filtered water samples (n=171) were collected in parallel with dive surveys at two locations as part of the New Zealand Marine High Risk Site Surveillance programme: Nelson Harbour (27 sites) and Waitemata Harbour (30 sites). Diver surveys resulted in a greater number of detections compared to real time PCR: S. clava – 21 versus 5 sites in Nelson, 6 versus 1 in Auckland; S. spallanzanii – 18 versus 10 in Auckland, no detections in Nelson. Occupancy modelling derived detection probabilities for the real-time PCR for S. clava were low (14%), compared to S. spallanzanii (66%). This could be related to abundances, or species-specific differences in DNA shedding. Only one RNA sample was positive suggesting that most detections were from extracellular DNA or non-viable fragments. While molecular methods cannot yet replace visual observations, this study shows they provide useful complementary information.