The feasibility of using bacterial community profiling with next-generation DNA sequencing to assess temporal and spatial environmental disturbances from finfish aquaculture in the Bay of Fundy



Changes to marine habitats from organic loading associated with finfish aquaculture activities will be reflected in the species diversity and the physiological traits of the organisms, ranging from bacteria to large mobile marine animals. Aquaculture Management has indicated that their management threshold for organic loading from aquaculture is no greater than a 50% biodiversity loss. This is currently measured using proxy indicators of benthic sediment oxic state. This project will test the concept that benthic conditions can be easily and cost-effectively monitored via bacterial populations using the latest DNA sequencing technology that is beginning to be adopted internationally and setting new standards for environmental monitoring. If this new technique can detect benthic biodiversity changes associated with aquaculture activities, it could be applicable to all bottom types, in all depths of water. The approach being taken in this research project will be to sample from the very surface layers where the turnover of bacteria can be very rapid and will allow a view of the current environmental conditions of the bottom. This hypothesis will be tested in the Bay of Fundy to develop an understanding of the spatial and temporal limitations of this technique.





Program Name

Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (PARR)


2016 - 2017

Principal Investigator

Shawn Robinson
Research Scientist, St. Andrews Biological Station

Team Member

Ben Forward, New Brunswick Research and Productivity Council