Patents pending – Some Novel Environmental Applications for DNA

October 23rd, 2020

The Environomics FSP has filed two applications for provisional patents. Both capitalise on the unique and rich information content of DNA molecules, and both have potential to significantly improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of environmental management.

A novel method for collecting environmental DNA

Corals and lots of fish underwater.

A cost effective method for broad scale species detection will enhance the management of natural resources.

Measuring biodiversity is time consuming, expensive and can require scientists to enter dangerous environments. Dr Bessey and her team are working with CSIRO materials scientists to develop new ways to rapidly measure marine biodiversity with environmental DNA (eDNA). They have developed a low-tech way to collect eDNA from water samples onto membranes. The DNA can then be sequenced which provides a measure of species biodiversity.

Our new method of collecting eDNA is cheap, and low-tech, which means it can be deployed at scale and in remote locations by anybody. It’s ideal for use by scientists and citizen scientists alike

Update: After exploring opportunities around passive eDNA collection we decided not to pursue a patent for this method of collecting environmental DNA. We took this decision to benefit the eDNA community and support positive environmental impacts. 

To find our more read our blog: Fish detectives use eDNA to tally tropical species

A method to determine animal age from DNA – Lead: Benjamin Mayne.

Our FSP team has identified age-predictive “epigenetic” biomarkers.

Age has a central role in regulating the dynamics of animal populations and estimates of age-structure underpin almost all frameworks for wildlife and fisheries management. Yet, biomarkers for age are lacking for most animal groups.

Our FSP team has determined a way to identify age-predictive “epigenetic” biomarkers and to rapidly and inexpensively assay them non-lethally in fish, sharks and marine turtles.

This method is highly accurate and has significant potential to benefit the management of valuable natural resources, especially commercial fisheries.

Age is intimately related to lifespan and in our last issue we profiled Ben’s research showing how lifespan can be predicted from the DNA of any vertebrate animal, even extinct ones. Ben has since applied the method to estimate the lifespan of all Australian sea turtle species

To find out more, read Lifespan estimation in marine turtles using genomic promoter CpG density.