According to new research conducted by the researchers at the Queen Mary University of London, it has been proven that animal DNA shed within the environment can be collected from the air.
Few days before they published a journal in PeerJ and in that journal they discuss some applications in the fields of ecology, health, and forensic. They mainly point out the usage of this new finding can be used to survey aquatic environments. In that, they mention this kind of DNA as environmental DNA or eDNA.
When animals and plants in the environment interact with the environment, they release some portion of DNA into the surrounding. This eDNA can help scientists to locate animal or plant species in different environments. Before scientists mainly focused on eDNA which can be found in air and soil but now they focus on eDNA which is aquatic.
Procedure They Followed
In these new experiments, scientists mainly focused on using eDNA to locate and identify animal and plant species in the environment. They used housed naked mole rats for their study and they took an air sample from the room where the mole rats were. They checked the DNA sampled and confirmed the identity.
By that, they proved that eDNA can be used to identify the mole-rat. As the final result scientists found that eDNA samples can also be used to identify humans as well. Dr. Elizabeth Clare, the first author of the study who is a Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary University expressed her opinion about this experiment, “The use of eDNA has become a topic of increasing interest within the scientific community particularly for ecologists or conservationists looking for efficient and non-invasive ways to monitor biological environments. Here we provide the first published evidence to show that animal eDNA can be collected from the air, opening up further opportunities for investigating animal communities in hard to reach environments such as caves and burrows.”
Future Applications of Environmental DNA
The research team didn’t stop their investigation by finding this very important fact. Now they are working to bring this finding into the real world and apply this concept to life. A company named NatureMetrics, some other partners and the third sector are also helping them to succeed in this aim.
Dr. Clare hardly believes that they can definitely do that and she said “What started off as an attempt to see if this approach could be used for ecological assessments has now become much more, with potential applications in forensics, anthropology and even medicine.” Not only that she said “For example, this technique could help us to better understand the transmission of airborne diseases such as Covid-19 (Coronaviruses). At the moment social distancing guidelines are based on physics and estimates of how far away virus particles can move, but with this technique we could actually sample the air and collect real-world evidence to support such guidelines.” If they can develop this concept to that level definitely it will be a huge change in this pandemic situation. All the genetic enthusiastic persons are keen on this new finding and further development of that.