DNA from air may help identify, track animals in the wild: Studies

What is the news?

Researchers have found that environmental DNA (e-DNA) can boost biodiversity conservation efforts across the world.

What is Environmental DNA (e-DNA)?

Environmental DNA or eDNA is DNA that is collected from a variety of environmental samples such as soil, seawater, snow or air rather than directly sampled from an individual organism. 

Example sources of eDNA include faeces, mucus, gametes, shed skin, carcasses and hair.

Note: e-DNA isn’t a new idea. Biologists have frequently observed aquatic organisms by sequencing e-DNA from water samples.
What are the findings of the study conducted by the researchers?

Researchers have found that Airborne DNA (Sampling the air around animals) can yield valuable genetic material that can identify ecological interaction between different species, besides recognising the animals.

Method to identify the animal using DNA from air: After extracting DNA from the air, the researchers made copies using polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The last step is DNA sequencing. They then compared the sequencing results with known sequences to identify the animal.

Significance: Airborne e-DNA could help understand the composition of animal communities and detect the spread of non-native species.It can also aid in tracking long-distance migratory birds and other birds’ flying patterns.

Source: This post is based on the article ‘DNA from air may help identify, track animals in the wild: Studies’ published in Down To Earth on 8th Jan 2022.

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