Developing molecular methods for detection of non-indigenous species
Consistent and adaptive management of invasive species introduction should be based on rigorous monitoring programmes that enable early detection of non-indigenous species (NIS). However, this task is challenging, as it demands the ability to recognize the presence of species at extremely low numbers of organisms. Moreover, traditional species identification methods that are based on the morphology of organisms can be time consuming and require taxonomic expertise which is often lacking and may fail to identify species at early life stages. Rapidly developing molecular techniques can help to overcome these difficulties and can be adopted for NIS detection and monitoring.
Molecular detection methods, especially those that can detect target species DNA in environmental samples from ports, ballast water, ballast tank sediments or biofouling (environmental DNA or eDNA) provide tools for rapid and sensitive species identification. A standardized protocol for eDNA sampling, preservation and transportation will be developed. Practical recommendations will be provided for successful integration of these tools into the existing monitoring programs and surveillance for compliance control with ballast water management standards.