Dragonflies may provide alert system for water pollution

June 29th, 2008 - 3:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Singapore, June 29 (DPA) Dragonfly young could soon be the aquatic version of the canary in a coalmine, a researcher said in a published report Sunday. Just as the singing birds were used by miners to warn them of toxic air, young dragonflies that live in reservoirs and ponds hold the potential of alerting humans to water pollution, The Straits Times said.

Researcher Nanthinee Jeevanandam, at the National University of Singapore, said she hopes to use their genetic fingerprint to help national water agencies like Singapore’s Public Utilities Board determine the level of cleanliness in reservoir water.

Different dragonfly species have varied tolerance to pollutants such as lead and sulphate, the report said. Some require cleaner water or more oxygen.

Studying the species would be a quick and chemical-free method of evaluating water quality, Jeevanandam said.

She said she has collected DNA sequences for about a quarter of the city-state’s 110 dragonfly species.

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