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Asian Carp Invasion

January 18, 2011

Scientists are using DNA to track the invasion of Asian carp in the United States.


CSI: Special Fish Unit. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Asian carp can weigh over a hundred pounds, and leap out of the water with such force they’ve caused broken bones among boaters. The fish have invaded US rivers and are heading toward the Great Lakes where they could replace native fish. Aquatic ecologist Lyndsey Chadderton from the Nature Conservancy has been taking water samples in the Chicago area, looking for Asian carp DNA to see how close the fish have gotten to Lake Michigan.

LYNDSEY CHADDERTON (The Nature Consrvancy):
In many ways this is analogous to what the police and forensic science has done for a long, long time. We are looking for a really small amount of DNA, with modern genetic laboratory tools.

A study in the journal Nature supports the validity of the DNA tracking method, which is bad news—the evidence shows some of the fish have gotten past electric fences put up to stop them. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.