Title

Developing Molecular Methods to Identify and Quantify Ballast Water Organisms: A Test Case with Cnidarians

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

4-15-2004

Department

Biological Sciences

Abstract

To comply with federal and international regulations, the Department of Defense (DoD) needs to quantify the abundance and diversity of organisms in the ballast water of DoD vessels. Traditional identification methods based on morphology are difficult and time-consuming. Full identification of certain taxa is not always possible because many of the larval forms do not have unique morphology, which can lead to an underestimate of the diversity of organisms present. Molecular techniques that use the DNA of the organism to make an identification have been successful in estimating mixed bacterial communities in soil and water; however, this technique has not been explored fully for ballast water organisms. New and novel approaches are needed to overcome many of the obstacles encountered using traditional identification methods for ballast water organisms.

The overall goal of this project was to adapt standard molecular methods into a novel approach for quantifying the abundance and diversity of organisms in the ballast water of DoD vessels. The objective of this exploratory research, in particular, was to describe molecular markers and refine the methods necessary to identify cnidarian taxa in ballast water samples.

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