Researchers collect DNA from the air – potential for new ecological, health and forensic applications

Researchers at Queen Mary University of London showed the animal for the first time DNA Hut in the environment can be collected from the air.

Proof-of-concept research published in the journal PeerJOpens up new ecological, health and forensic applications of environmental DNA (eDNA), which has been used primarily to investigate the aquatic environment.

Organisms such as plants and animals release DNA into their surroundings as they interact with them. In recent years, eDNA has become an important tool for scientists to help identify species found in different environments. However, while various environmental samples, including soil and air, have been proposed as sources of eDNA, most studies to date have focused on collecting eDNA from water.

In this study, researchers collected eDNA from air samples and investigated whether it could be used to identify animal species. They first took an air sample from the room where the naked mole rat, a social rodent species that inhabits underground colonies, lived, and then used existing techniques to sample the DNA sequence in the air. I checked.

Using this approach, the researchers have shown that airDNA sampling can successfully detect naked mole rat DNA in animal farms and in the room itself. Scientists have also discovered human DNA in air samples, suggesting the potential use of this sampling technique for forensic applications.

Dr. Elizabeth Claire, senior lecturer at Queen Mary University of London and lead author of the study, said: How to monitor the biological environment. It provides the first published evidence that animal eDNA can be collected from the air and opens up further opportunities for investigating animal communities in difficult-to-reach environments such as caves and burrows. “

The research team is currently working with industry and third-sector partners, including Nature Metrics, to enable some of the potential applications of this technology. Dr. Claire added: “What started as an attempt to see if this approach could be used for ecological assessment could be applied to forensic medicine, anthropology, and even medicine, and is now much more common.”

“For example, this technique may help us better understand the transmission of aerial infections such as Covid-19. At this time, social distancing guidelines presume that the physics of the distance that viral particles can travel. Although based on, this technique allows you to actually sample the air and collect real-world evidence to support such guidelines. “

See also: “eDNAir: Proof of Concept that Animal DNA Can Be Collected from Air Sampling”, Elizabeth L Claire, Chloe Economou, Chris G Forks, James D Gilbert, Francis Bennett, Rosie Drinkwater, Joan E Little Fair, 2021 3 31st of March PeerJ..

This project was supported by Queen Mary’s Impact Acceleration Accounts (IAA). This is a strategic award offered to institutions by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), which supports knowledge exchange (KE) and helps researchers influence their research.

Researchers collect DNA from the air – potential for new ecological, health and forensic applications Researchers collect DNA from the air – potential for new ecological, health and forensic applications.