Advanced technologies for improved detection
Cawthron is developing molecular-based tools that allow the early detection of invasive organisms and other pests and diseases in our marine and freshwater ecosystems. The DNA-based assays support research and commercial monitoring programmes targeting marine and freshwater algae, cyanobacteria, and bioinvasive/pest species that pose a risk to the safety of seafood exports, water quality, aquaculture production and biodiversity.
Cawthron's current research focuses on developing molecular-based tools for marine species known to cause problems in other parts of the world, including marine invertebrates, microalgae and micro-organisms. The aim is to produce multi-species monitoring systems that will enable the early detection of high risk organisms in ships' ballast and in New Zealand's coastal environment.
Our team of scientists is collaborating with international organisations including the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (based in the United States) which has developed innovative monitoring buoys with on-board molecular laboratories that enable rapid detection of target organisms.
Cawthron's expertise is also being applied to freshwater ecosystems. Harmful algae such as blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) and didymo (Didymosphenia geminata) cause problems for our freshwater ecosystems.
Cyanobacteria can produce toxins that are harmful to humans and animals, and form thick mats that impact on ecosystem health. Didymo also forms mats that impact on native biodiversity and the ability of waterways to support high value fish species such as trout. We use our expertise in this area to develop tools that support improved monitoring of these harmful species.