Researchers at Queen Mary University of London have shown for the first time that animal DNA spilled in the environment can be collected from the air. Researchers say the proof-of-concept study opens the potential for new environmental, health, and forensic uses for environmental DNA (eDNA). The researchers say that living organisms such as plants and animals release DNA into the environment when they interact with the environment.
eDNA has been used by scientists to identify species found in different environments. A number of environmental samples have been suggested as sources for eDNA, including soil and air, but most studies have focused on collecting eDNA from water. In the most recent study, researchers focused on determining whether eDNA can be taken from air samples and used to identify animal species.
The researchers took air samples from a room containing naked mole rats and used existing techniques to check the air samples for DNA sequences. The team showed that AirDNA sampling successfully detected mole rat DNA in the shelter and in the room itself. Interestingly, the researchers also found human DNA in the air samples, suggesting a possible use in forensic applications.
Researchers are currently working with industry partners, including a company called NatureMetrics, to bring the technology’s potential applications to life. Researchers say this started as an attempt to see if the ecological assessment approach could be used and has grown much more.
They believe technology has potential applications in forensics, anthropology, and medicine. They say the technology could help us better understand the transmission of airborne diseases like COVID-19. Currently, social distancing guidelines are based on physics and estimate how far virus particles can travel. However, your technique could take air samples and collect real-world evidence to support guidelines.
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