In Situ DNA Assay at 1000m

Why bother collecting samples at depth, bring them to the surface, preserve them, bring them into the lab, and then sequence them when you can just do it on the ocean bottom?

MBARI researchers perform first DNA analysis in the deep sea

In a culmination of seven years of work, MBARI researchers this week performed the first automated analysis of DNA in the deep sea. Using the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Ventana, they carried an automated DNA laboratory called the Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) down to a depth of 1,000 meters in Monterey Bay. The ESP has been used previously to detect bacteria, algae, and other microorganisms in near-surface waters. In order to adapt this instrument for use in the deep sea, the researchers had to develop a “deep-water sampling module,” which allows the ESP to collect samples of sea water at depths where the water pressure can be several hundreds of times that at the surface. Eventually this device may be used at deep-sea hydrothermal vents or hooked up to the MARS ocean observatory in Monterey Bay.

Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

One comment on “In Situ DNA Assay at 1000m
  1. I wanted to read the text of your ‘deep sea DNA analysis,’ but the page was unavailable in my computer. It’s exciting to hear the ‘in situ DNA analysis’ in the deep sea, and I’d love to learn techniques about what, if any, but subtle and even necessary adjustment(s) was applied. Unless I upgrade my current Windows XP Prof. to broad band or other, I have no chance of reading it, or can you help me in any way from your end?! I’ll be very appreciative of your help. Thanks.
    AriSan in New York

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