Monday 29 Nov 2021
Environmental DNA (eDNA) Program in Collaboration with EdUHK Print E-mail

Environmental DNA (eDNA) Program in Collaboration with EdUHK

Environmental DNA (eDNA) is DNA collected from environmental samples such as seawater or soil. Those DNA come from feces, hair, skin and other animal tissues. Since DNA contains genetic codes that are unique between each species, scientists could identify the existence of a certain species in the environment by analyzing eDNA (1). With the advancement of technology, eDNA analysis become popular for conducting ecological studies, such as monitoring the distribution of a species and assessing biodiversity.

 

To develop eDNA-based learning activities, our school collaborated with Dr. Cheang Chi Chiu  from the Education University of Hong Kong, an expert in the field of eDNA. Dr. Cheang and researchers from his laboratory helped us to construct a series of after-school activities for enriching students’ knowledge in biotechnology.

 

In mid-October 2021, 178 of our S3 students participated in two ZOOM lectures hosted by Dr. Cheang’s team. The first lecture provided students a brief introduction to the valuable ecosystem in Hong Kong, while the second lecture explained the molecular technique underlying the eDNA technology. Following the lectures, 16 of our S3 students were selected to visit the laboratory in EdUHK and conduct hands-on eDNA experiments. They analyzed some eDNA samples by applying different molecular biology techniques, including polymerase chain reaction and DNA agarose gel electrophoresis. At the end, Dr. Cheang gave our students a short lecture to highlight the increasing importance of biotechnology in everyday lives and encouraged our students to further develop their interest in biotechnology. After the series of activities, some students started their own eDNA project on studying the distribution of Macropodus hongkongensis, which is a local threatened freshwater species in Hong Kong (2).

 

Our experience demonstrated that eDNA study is not merely atool in scientific research, but it is also an excellent tool for science education in secondary schools. Since eDNA study involves knowledge in ecology, molecular biology and even bioinformatics, it could let students experience modern science problem with an interdisciplinary perspective. Besides, it is also an excellent discovery-based science activity to foster students’ curiosity and nurture their scientific literacy. Proper environmental values and attitudes could also be nurtured by connecting biotechnology to the land and waters around us.

 

與香港教育大學合作的環境DNA (eDNA) 活動

環境DNA (eDNA) 是從海水或土壤等環境樣本中收集的DNA。這些DNA 來自動物的糞便、毛髮、皮膚和其他組織。由於每個物種都有獨特的DNA遺傳密碼,科學家可以通過分析eDNA  來確定環境中特定物種的存在(1)。隨著技術的進步,eDNA 分析在進行生態研究方面變得流行起來,例如監測物種的分佈和評估生物多樣性。

 

為了設計有關eDNA的學習活動,我校與香港教育大學的蔣志超博士合作。蔣博士和他實驗室的研究人員幫助我們構建了一系列課後活動,以豐富學生的生物技術知識。

 

2021年10 月中旬,我們的178 名中三學生參加了由蔣博士團隊主辦的兩場ZOOM講座。第一堂課向學生簡要介紹了香港寶貴的生態系統,而第二堂課則解釋了eDNA 背後的分子技術。講座結束後,我們選出了16 名中三學生參觀教大實驗室並進行eDNA 實驗。他們通過應用不同的分子生物學技術(包括聚合酶鏈反應和DNA 凝膠電泳)分析了一些eDNA 樣本,。最後,蔣博士為我們的學生做了一個簡短的講座,強調生物技術在日常生活中的重要性日益增加,並鼓勵我們的學生進一步培養他們對生物技術的興趣。一系列活動結束後,部分學生開始了自己的eDNA項目,嘗試研究香港本地瀕危淡水物種香港鬥魚Macropodus hongkongensis的分佈(2)。

 

我們的經驗表明,eDNA 研究不僅是科學研究的工具,也是中學科學教育很好的工具。由於eDNA研究涉及生態學、分子生物學甚至生物信息學的知識,因此可以讓學生以跨學科的視角體驗現代科學問題。此外,它也是一項很好的發現式學習,以培養學生的好奇心和培養他們的科學素養。通過將生物技術與我們的大自然聯繫起來,也可以培養學生正確的環境價值觀和態度。

 

References:

  1. Kelly, R. P., Port, J. A., Yamahara, K. M., Martone, R. G., Lowell, N., Thomsen, P. F., Mach, M. E., Bennett, M., Prahler, E., Caldwell, M. R., & Crowder, L. B. (2014). Environmental monitoring. Harnessing DNA to improve environmental management. Science (New York, N.Y.), 344(6191), 1455–1456. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1251156
  2. Liu, H., Xu, N., Yang, J., Zhang, Q., Zuo, K., & Lv, F. (2019). The complete mitogenome of Hong Kong paradise fish (Macropodus hongkongensis), an endemic freshwater fish in South China. Mitochondrial DNA. Part B, Resources, 4(2), 2849–2850. https://doi.org/10.1080/23802359.2019.1660271

 

 

Photos

 

Researcher demonstrating molecular biology technique to our students.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Students carrying out agarose gel electrophoresis to analyze eDNA sample

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A group photo with Professor Cheang and lab members.

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Field study to collect eDNA

 

Investigating local freshwater species

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 November 2021 10:41