Scientists discover a technique by which to collect DNA from the air
A group of researchers has discovered a very interesting novelty regarding the collection of DNA, which does not necessarily have to be done from physical surfaces. Scientists at Queen Mary University of London have shown that it is possible to collect ‘environmental DNA’ (eDNA) from the air. The team used a peristaltic pump combined with pressure filters to take naked mole rat DNA samples for 5-20 minutes. He then used standard kits to find and sequence the genes in the resulting samples. This method not only detected the DNA of the mole rats, but it captured human DNA at the same time.
Scientists’ discovery of environmental DNA
The lead author, the doctor Elizabeth Claire, said the work was originally meant to help conservationists and ecologists study biological environments. With enough development, however, it could be used for much more. Forensic units could take DNA from the air to determine if a suspect was present at a crime scene. It could also be useful in medicine: virologists and epidemiologists could understand how viruses present in the air spread, as in the case of Covid-19.
However, all practical uses are still a long way off. The research unit is already working with private companies to develop practical applications. It’s easy to see the limitations – you want to use it in areas where you know what to expect from the DNA, so it may not work well in crowded rooms or outdoor spaces. It is therefore necessary to do more in-depth analysis.