Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


NIWA uses virtual microscope to strengthen NZ's biosecurity

NIWA uses virtual microscope to strengthen NZ's biosecurity

NIWA scientists are pioneering a new way of tapping into international expertise through an online specimen identification service of particular benefit to New Zealand’s biosecurity.

NIWA’s marine taxonomists identify and describe a wide range of organisms that are found in our coastal and oceanic waters, supplementing their expertise by maintaining strong connections with a network of overseas taxonomists who can help identify unusual or unidentifiable species.

Sometimes such unusual organisms are discovered during surveys for marine pests. Previously these have had to be sent to the overseas experts to determine their identity and, therefore, the risk to New Zealand. This is costly, time-consuming and can result in lost or damaged specimens or hold-ups due to regulatory issues.

However, following a trial of an online microscope, marine biologists at NIWA’s Wellington base are now offering a real-time identification service.

The service is primarily being used by the Marine Invasives Taxonomic Service, a centralised marine biosecurity identification programme operated by NIWA for the Ministry for Primary Industries.

NIWA’s Programme Leader for marine biosecurity, Graeme Inglis, says the system enables NIWA scientists to link up with other specialists around the world in real time to enable more rapid decision-making about managing potential risks.

“One of the issues we face is the diminishing number of taxonomic specialists around the world so there is a need to strengthen those networks. We need to ensure we retain the ability to tap into this expertise that underpins important decisions about New Zealand’s biodiversity and biosecurity.

“So now, if we get a strange looking creature we can ask a specialist anywhere to look at it by putting it in front of the online microscope. That way we get a tentative idea of what we’re looking at immediately and then a more comprehensive answer within a few hours,” he says.

Specimens sent to Australia for identification typically take between five and seven days, and even in New Zealand sample deliveries can take three to four days between cities. Virtual identification using the online microscope can be obtained within one to two days with significant cost savings, Dr Inglis says.

It works by experts anywhere in the world viewing the image while communicating with the microscope operator via Skype. The specimen can be manipulated to show important diagnostic characteristics to the expert and photographs can be taken at any time by either user.

“It’s not ideal for everything as some things need to be dissected or inspected more closely but it is an important new tool for us,” Dr Inglis says.

As well as being used to identify potential biosecurity risks, the microscope also has a number of other benefits, including the ability to be used for training people in remote locations.

NIWA also holds the largest collection of non-indigenous marine organisms in New Zealand and the NIWA Invertebrate Collection (NIC) – officially classified as a Nationally Significant Collection and Database – which houses several million specimens, and a large proportion of known New Zealand marine invertebrate species, collected over five decades of research in the New Zealand region, the southwestern Pacific and the Ross Sea.. The microscope facility offers scientists and biosecurity experts the opportunity to access these collections remotely for referencing.

Dr Inglis says the next step in the project is to make the system mobile so it can be used in the field for urgent identifications. For example, inspections of biofouling on vessels often require fast turn-around times to prevent costly delays.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Cosmetics & Pollution: Proposal To Ban Microbeads

Cosmetic products containing microbeads will be banned under a proposal announced by the Minister for the Environment today. Marine scientists have been advocating for a ban on the microplastics, which have been found to quickly enter waterways and harm marine life. More>>

ALSO:

NIWA: 2016 New Zealand’s Warmest Year On Record

Annual temperatures were above average (0.51°C to 1.20°C above the annual average) throughout the country, with very few locations observing near average temperatures (within 0.5°C of the annual average) or lower. The year 2016 was the warmest on record for New Zealand, based on NIWA’s seven-station series which begins in 1909. More>>

ALSO:

Farewell 2016: NZ Economy Flies Through 2016's Political Curveballs

Dec. 23 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand's economy batted away some curly political curveballs of 2016 to end the year on a high note, with its twin planks of a booming construction sector and rampant tourism soon to be joined by a resurgent dairy industry. More>>

ALSO:


NZ Economy: More Growth Than Expected In 3rd Qtr

Dec. 22 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand's economy grew at a faster pace than expected in the September quarter as a booming construction sector continued to underpin activity, spilling over into related building services, and was bolstered by tourism and transport ... More>>

  • NZ Govt - Solid growth for NZ despite fragile world economy
  • NZ Council of Trade Unions - Government needs to ensure economy raises living standards
  • KiwiRail Goes Deisel: Cans electric trains on partially electrified North Island trunkline

    Dec. 21 (BusinessDesk) – KiwiRail, the state-owned rail and freight operator, said a small fleet of electric trains on New Zealand’s North Island would be phased out over the next two years and replaced with diesel locomotives. More>>

  • KiwiRail - KiwiRail announces fleet decision on North Island line
  • Greens - Ditching electric trains massive step backwards
  • Labour - Bill English turns ‘Think Big’ into ‘Think Backwards’
  • First Union - Train drivers condemn KiwiRail’s return to “dirty diesel”
  • NZ First - KiwiRail Going Backwards for Xmas
  • NIWA: The Year's Top Science Findings

    Since 1972 NIWA has operated a Clean Air Monitoring Station at Baring Head, near Wellington... In June, Baring Head’s carbon dioxide readings officially passed 400 parts per million (ppm), a level last reached more than three million years ago. More>>

    ALSO:

    Get More From Scoop

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Sci-Tech
    Search Scoop  
     
     
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news