Developing and Applying a Portable Real-Time Genetic Probe for Detecting Aquatic Invasive Species in Ships’ Ballast

2007 - 2011
Team Leader
David Lodge
University of Notre Dame

The team is producing a new type of detection technology to help stop future species invasions in the Great Lakes. Decision-makers will know the species threat posed by a ship less than two hours after taking a ballast water sample. The team is building a new monitoring and analytical tool to detect invaders in real time, using genetic probes and microfluidics to build a lab on a chip. The team will build species-specific probes for Chinese mitten crabs, killer shrimp, golden mussels, predatory water fleas, zebra mussels and quagga mussels. Their ship-scale, laboratory-independent, completely portable detection platform could save our region from the next zebra mussel.

To date the team has been testing the capabilities of a chip-based carbon nanotube (CNT) system to detect DNA of targeted aquatic invasive species. This system has proved to be sensitive and efficient allowing for accurate detections both in laboratory tests and in real ballast samples. More recently, the team has begun investigation of a new detection technology that offers greater advantages than CNT. Among other improvements, this new technology is more sensitive than CNT, does not require extensive training, and produces results in less than a minute.

Project Categories

  • Biological Pollution

Project Files

  • Rapid Detection of Invasive Species
  • “Sight-unseen” Detection (PDF)
  • Download Project Profile (PDF)

Project Links