Real-time DNA sequencing on Viking ships enhances phytoplankton study

   May 25, 2024 ,   Cruise Industry

Viking Cruises has announced a significant advancement in marine research with the implementation of real-time environmental DNA (eDNA) sequencing of phytoplankton aboard its expedition fleet. This innovative development is supported by scientific expertise from UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI).

Viking Octantis ship now has an upgraded PCR lab, creating a cutting-edge scientific environment for researchers involved in the Genomics at Sea Program (GASP). This enables the monitoring of phytoplankton environmental impacts in real-time, eliminating the need to transport samples to distant facilities. Viking is the first travel company to offer real-time environmental genetic sequencing on its vessels, underscoring its commitment to integrating scientific research into its expedition voyages.

This initiative builds on Viking’s collaboration with Fjord Phyto, a NASA-funded program by Scripps, which involves guests in polar phytoplankton sampling for genetic analysis.

Viking Octantis's PCR lab was upgraded earlier this year in Antarctica, and this summer, Viking Polaris ship will undergo similar enhancements to further support these research efforts before both ships return to Antarctica later in the year. Viking will continue to host Scripps scientists on board the Viking Octantis during its season in the Great Lakes, reinforcing its dedication to meaningful scientific exploration and discovery.