Scientists invent a method to collect DNA from the air

04/06/2021 at 1:01 PM CEST

A group of scientists dedicated to the investigation of DNA chains has discovered a method to extract DNA from surfaces in the future. The group from Queen Mary University of London has shown that “environmental DNA” (aDNA or eDNA) can be collected from the air.

The team has used a peristaltic pump combined with pressure filters to extract samples of naked DNA molecules in five to twenty minutes. They then used standard kits to find and sequence the genes in the resulting samples. This method not only works for the rats that have been tested, but it would also be able to capture human DNA in time.

Team leader Dr. Elizabeth Claire explained that the work was originally conceived to help conservationists and environmentalists carry out biological environment studies. With sufficient development, it could be put to considerably wider use. Forensics could take DNA out of the air to determine if a suspect has been present at a crime scene. In addition, it could be very useful for virologists and epidemiologists to understand how a virus could spread.

Some of these practical uses have a long way to go. The research unit is already working with private companies such as NatureMetrics to develop these practical applications. At the moment there are limitations, but it is expected that this will change in the future.