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[翻译]Agriculture Report - Science Fiction Becomes Reality for Species Surveys

From VOA Learning English, this is the Environment and Science Report.

这里是美国之音慢速英语环境和科学报道。

Many science fiction stories tell about explorers arriving in a new world. The explorers then use some kind of high-tech device to test for breathable air or signs of life. But here on Earth, science fiction is becoming reality through a new sampling technology called environmental DNA, or eDNA for short. Scientists can use it to identify rare or invasive species, study biodiversity or estimate fish populations with just a little air or water.

许多科幻故事讲述的都是探险家抵达某个新星球,然后使用某种高科技设备检测可呼吸空气或生命迹象。但是在地球上,通过一项名为环境DNA(简称eDNA)的新型采样技术,科幻小说正逐渐成为现实。科学家可以使用这项识别稀有物种或外来入侵物种、研究生物多样性,或者仅仅通过一点点空气或水估算鱼类种群。

Ryan Kelly is an ecologist at the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs at the University of Washington in Seattle. He works in a laboratory there with other researchers. They study the genetic material released by living creatures.

雷恩·凯利(Ryan Kelly)是华盛顿大学西雅图分校海洋和环境学院的一位生态学家。他和其他研究人员在该校的一个实验室工作。他们研究生物释放出的遗传物质。

"Essentially we can take a sample of soil or air -- and in our case -- water, and we can sequence the DNA out of it and tell you what is there."

“从本质上讲,我们可以提取土壤或空气的样本。在这个例子中,我们提取的是水,我们可以从中测定出DNA序列,从而得知存在什么生物。”

Ryan Kelly says he and his research team are studying water samples collected from Puget Sound. He says the cost of gene sequencing has "plummeted in recent years." That makes DNA testing more widely available.

凯利表示,他和他的研究小组正在研究采自普吉特湾的水样。他说,基因测序的成本近年来急剧下降,这使得DNA检测的应用更为广泛。

Environmental DNA can be used in two ways. One is to identify the creatures that live in a certain place. The other is to confirm the presence or lack of a specific creature.

环境DNA可以用于两个方面。一是确定某地生存的各种生物。另外就是确定某种特定生物的存在或缺失。

Caren Goldberg heads the new eDNA lab at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington. She is one of the first biologists in the northwestern United States to take the technology from the testing phase to actually using it.

卡伦·戈德堡(Caren Goldberg)负责华盛顿州立大学普尔曼校区新设立的环境DNA实验室。她是美国西北部首批将该技术从试验阶段投入到实际应用的生物学家之一。

"It is extremely useful for species that are really hard to find. I have spent many hours looking for species that I was pretty sure were there -- looking under rocks, looking in water, doing all kinds of surveys."

她说,“这项技术对很难找到的物种来说非常有用。我已经花了很多时间在岩石下和水中寻找,以及做各种调查来寻找一些物种,我确认它们在那里存在。”

Caren Goldberg sees eDNA as a way to get answers more efficiently, safely and with less destruction compared to traditional survey techniques. Until recently, scientists depended on snorkeling, netting or using an electric current to temporarily capture fish.

戈德堡将环境DNA视为一种获得答案的方法,它较之传统调研技术更为安全有效,并且更少破坏环境。直到最近,科学家们还依赖浮潜、下网或使用电流来临时捕鱼。

"We're absolutely at this point where proof-of-concept has been established. I don't think everyone necessarily is on board yet, but I think the majority of the people are on board."

“显然我们进入了已经建立概念验证的这个阶段。我不认为所有人都已经进入这个阶段,但我认为绝大多数人已经进入了这个阶段。”

This newer way to identify what lives in the environment is becoming popular around the world. Animal experts in Vietnam are using the eDNA to find the last, wild Yangtze giant softshell turtles. One researcher on the Caribbean island of Trinidad is using the sampling technology to find endangered golden treefrogs. And in Madagascar, it is being used to identify amphibian diseases.

这种验证环境中有何物种的最新办法在全球日益流行。越南的动物专家开始使用环境DNA技术寻找最后的野生斑鳖(Yangtze Giant Softshell)。加勒比岛国特立尼达的一位研究人员开始使用这种采样技术寻找濒危的金色树蛙。而在马达加斯加,这种技术被应用于诊断两牺动物的疾病。

Ms. Goldberg has used eDNA testing to confirm the local extinction, disappearance, of a leopard frog in the American state of Idaho. She has also been asked to document the spread of the New Zealand mudsnail in the state of Washington. The creature has been found in lakes and other waterways across the state.

戈德堡女士使用环境DNA测试来确认美国爱达荷州的豹蛙在当地是否已经灭绝。她还被要求记录新西兰田螺在华盛顿州的蔓延。这种生物已经在该州各地的湖泊和水域中被发现。

Now, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management wants Caren Goldberg to look for the Columbia spotted frog in two other western states. The rare amphibian is a candidate for the federal government's threatened species list.

现在,美国土地管理局希望戈德堡女士在另外两个西部州寻找哥伦比亚斑点蛙。这种罕见的两栖动物即将入选联邦政府的濒危物种名单。

Scientists working with the technology say they do not expect robots to replace field biologists anytime soon. But the old-fashioned field work could soon be more targeted.

研究这种技术的科学家表示,他们并不期望自动仪器很快能取代实地考察的生物学家。但这种老式的野外工作很快可以更具针对性。

A related research goal is to show how long environmental DNA can last and how far it can travel in different environments.

有一项相关研究的目标是探明环境DNA可以持续多久,以及在不同环境中它能传播多远。

And that's the Environment and Science Report from VOA Learning English. For more environment, science and agriculture reports, go to our website www.voanews.cn. I'm Jonathan Evans.