2019 | USA | Sonja Michaluk

A Novel Method of Monitoring the Health of our Global Fresh Water Supply using DNA Barcoding of Chironomidae (Diptera)

Water issue adressed: Too little
Orthocladius Rivulorum, Biotic Index: 6

It is forecast that 66% of our population will experience water scarcity within a decade, leaving us more dependent on surface water for drinking. This requires more filtration infrastructure, and more monitoring of surface water. Current methods rely on expensive and technically challenging manual identification of biological samples. Macroinvertebrates spend their larval lives within a small area of water, showing cumulative effects of habitat alteration and pollutants that chemical testing and field sensors do not. Chironimidae are a global common denominator. DNA Barcoding of Chironomidae results in more accurate and precise waterway health data, adding significant value for monitoring scarce water resources. The learnings from these data are being applied building microbiology capability at a nonprofit scientific water study institute.

This is how I came up with the idea for this project:

My research, data, and advocacy led to environmental improvements: modifications to a national pipeline minimizing stream disturbance, preserving ecologically critical wetlands, protecting a threatened species. Bioassessment methods have limitations. I began improvements: developing monitoring devices, adapting genetic techniques. I observed Chironomidae, a common denominator across my sites, across the globe.


Ania Andersch

Programme manager ania.andersch@siwi.org +46 8 121 360 59