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Deciphering the DNA of Tsunamis and Storms

Photo by Stephane Hurbe from Pexels

  • Featured
  • 16 Jul 2021

A team of researchers, including microbiologists from SCELSE, have discovered that tsunamis and storms leave behind sediments with unique environmental DNA. Looking specifically at the sites where the Indian Ocean tsunami struck in 2004 and a tropical storm hit in Thailand in 2007, the scientists found that the microbial communities in the sediment layers left behind by these two events were significantly different.

This discovery goes some way in helping coastal cities better prepare for these potentially catastrophic natural events, work that is now made even more urgent in a world hit by the climate crisis and rising temperatures and sea levels. The study, involving SCELSE PI Assoc Prof Federico Lauro, was published in the Communications Earth and Environment journal in June this year, was also highlighted in The Straits Times.

  • Yap, W., Switzer, A.D., Gouramanis, C. et al. Environmental DNA signatures distinguish between tsunami and storm deposition in overwash sand. Commun Earth Environ 2, 129 (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s43247-021-00199-3