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BMT to host an eDNA seminar in Perth

BMT is organising a seminar on an innovative biological monitoring tool, environmental DNA (eDNA)

21 August 2018

Water and Environment

eDNA an emerging tool for biological monitoring

BMT is organising a seminar on an innovative biological monitoring tool, environmental DNA (eDNA), with the purpose of sharing information with the industry, regulators and the wider scientific community. eDNA has monitoring applications for biosecurity, environmental impact assessment, conservation and the detection of threatened species.

BMT has invited three speakers, experienced in eDNA and its applications. The seminar will include an overview of the technology, real life case studies, regulators’ viewpoint of the eDNA tool and a panel discussion.

Australia’s marine environment is unique and has significant value for our economy and social/cultural identity. eDNA may be able to play an important part in our effort to understand and manage our marine environment. Through this seminar, oil and gas operators, port owners, regulators and researchers will have the opportunity to learn, exchange ideas and share their experiences on the use of eDNA in environmental management and biosecurity.

What is eDNA?

Environmental DNA (eDNA) are trace amounts of DNA obtained from environmental substrates (such as water or sediment), rather than directly from a biological source. This preserved genetic material provides a tool to monitor the composition of biological communities at a given location.

When combined with next generation DNA sequencing technologies, eDNA provides a wealth of information for studies of biodiversity, threatened species, biosecurity, pests/diseases, food webs and dietary analysis.

Why is eDNA significant to you?

  • Innovative and cost-effective approach to marine monitoring
  • Applications for biosecurity, environmental impact assessment and conservation.


Event Information

Date : Wednesday, 5th September 2018
Time : 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM (AWST; UTC+08:00)
Venue : Holiday Inn, 788 Hay Street, Perth, WA 6000

Kindly RSVP by 30th August 2018
via email to
or call +61 (08) 6163 4900


Event Program

  • 2:00 PM – 2:30 PM : Registration with Tea and Coffee.

  • 2:30 PM : Opening by Dr Mark Westera.

  • 2:35 PM – 3:00 PM : eDNA: Applications, capabilities and challenges. Presented by Professor Mike Bunce.

  • 3:00 PM – 3:20 PM : Project Case Studies. Presented by Alex Grochowski.

  • 3:20 PM – 3:40 PM : Aquatic Biosecurity: a biosecurity regulators’ perspective. Presented by Dr Justin McDonald.

  • 3:40 PM – 4:00 PM : Panel questions.

  • 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM : Afternoon tea & Networking.


Seminar Presenters

Professor Mike Bunce, Head of TrEnD Lab

  • Trace and Environmental DNA (TrEnD) Laboratory
  • School of Molecular and Life Sciences, Curtin University
  • Presenting eDNA: Applications, capabilities and challenges

Professor Mike Bunce is the head of the TrEnD Laboratory at Curtin University. Professor Bunce completed his undergraduate degree at Lincoln University (NZ), his PhD at the Australian National University. He undertook post-doctoral training at Oxford (UK) and McMaster (Canada) Universities before moving to Western Australia in 2006 to start his own laboratory. Bunce has published widely in the field of trace and degraded DNA across a variety of fields; he has nine Publications in Science and Nature. Details of his track record can be found here.

The TrEnD lab specialises in using DNA metabarcoding techniques to characterise biological communities within a wide variety of biological samples from sediment and scat, to seawater and settlement plates. eDNA is a rapidly growing field that has found use in a wide variety of biological applications including: biodiversity assessment, impact assessment, archaeology, food-webs, biosecurity, marine biology, endangered species detection and human health. Professor Bunce’s presentation will showcase some of the applications of this technology and discuss eDNA’s role in biomonitoring.

Alex Grochowski, Principal Marine Scientist (BMT)

  • Presenting Project Case studies

Alex is an Associate Principal Marine Scientist at BMT with over 12 years experience working on a diverse range of marine research and consulting projects both nationally and internationally. Experienced with the use of a variety of marine sampling techniques, Alex will discuss the use of eDNA in an industry and environmental management context with real world examples. He will present the results of eDNA projects BMT have delivered, including:

  • Assessment of introduced marine species and fish assemblages at nearshore and offshore locations in the Perth region
  • Monitoring fish assemblages in tidal creeks in the Pilbara
  • Assessing the presence of protected species (Macquarie Perch) in a reservoir and tributaries
  • Assessing the presence of protected species (saw sharks) in tropical rivers
  • Examples of other eDNA studies beyond what BMT have delivered (e.g. coral assemblages, cetaceans, ship ballast water).

Dr Justin McDonald, Principal Research Scientist

  • Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development (DPIRD)
  • Presenting Aquatic Biosecurity: A biosecurity regulators’ perspective

Dr Justin McDonald is a marine ecologist specialising in marine invasive species. He has worked in academia, consulting and government. As a consultant, Dr McDonald has worked on effects of desalination plant discharge to domestic and international vessel surveys to detect introduced marine pests. In government, he worked for the Ministry of Forestry and Agriculture - Biosecurity in New Zealand, where he managed marine biosecurity surveillance for ports and harbours around New Zealand. As a Principal Research Scientist, he now leads a team of scientists and technical staff responsible for protecting the aquatic resources of Western Australia from invasive species.

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