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eDNA: environmental DNA can be taken from the air

Author: Mukul Vyas
Detectives and investigators won’t have to take DNA samples from the surface to catch a criminal in the future. They will collect DNA samples from the air and find the culprit. You will be surprised to know that we leave our DNA everywhere. Fractions of our DNA are also present in the air. Researchers collected animal DNA from air samples for the first time. The DNA released by humans and other animals into the environment is called environmental DNA. It is also called scientific “EDNA”. Scientists extract electronic DNA from water samples to detect species that have been living in the water for some time, but no one has yet tried to extract animal DNA from the air.

Elizabeth Claire, an ecologist at Queens Mary University in London and lead author of the study, said we wanted to see if we could detect the presence of terrestrial animals by filtering EDNA from the air. He said we also want to know if EDNA can be used to get a feel for the creatures living in burrows or caves. The species living in these places are difficult to access or capture.

In her experiment, Claire and her colleagues attempted to collect eDNA at a pet store where the bare mole (an East African rat) count was kept. Surprisingly, the researchers found both naked molar count and human DNA from air samples taken from this animal’s enclosure and fenced home. Environmentalist Matthew Barnes from Texas Tech University in the United States said this experiment proves that DNA from large animals can also be collected from air samples. Barnes said we can detect forest organisms that are threatened with extinction by airborne DNA.

Researchers will use this technique in the future to monitor species living in inaccessible sites. The presence of human DNA in the enclosure of the animal surprised the researchers. Barnes said finding human DNA in almost all of the samples was also a major hurdle. On the one hand, this shows that this detection method is very sensitive. On the other hand, it also shows that air samples can also be contaminated with DNA from the research team. To avoid such pollution, researchers must use air filters, gowns and hairnets, etc. so that they cannot mix their DNA in air samples.

The last decade began with the compilation and analysis of electronic DNA for the study and management of botanical and wildlife species. Prior to this study, some researchers attempted to collect botanical DNA from the air. Most of these experiments involved plants releasing DNA into the air in the form of pollen and seeds. Obviously animals don’t do this. But they release their DNA into the atmosphere through their spindle and skin cells. This new discovery by scientists makes it possible to develop a new field of aerial DNA analysis. Technology that has been developed solely for environmental assessment purposes can also be of great use in medicine, criminology and anthropology. With the help of new technologies, we can better understand the diseases that spread through the air like Kovid. Currently, social distancing rules have been formulated based on the extent of virus penetration into the air. But with new technology, we can determine more effective social distancing rules by collecting real air samples. Researchers are currently in talks with companies for a diversified use of this technology.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are those of the author

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