Scientists and investigators may not need to retrieve DNA from surfaces in the future. According to Scientific focus, researchers at Queen Mary University in London have shown that you can collect “environmental DNA” (eDNA) from the air.
The team used a peristaltic pump combined with pressure filters to take samples of naked molar rat DNA for five to 20 minutes, and then used standard kits to find and sequence genes in the resulting samples. This method not only identified the moles’ DNA (both in the house and in the room in general), but also captured some human DNA.
Lead author Dr. Elizabeth Claire said the work was originally intended to help conservationists and ecologists study biological environments. With enough development, however, it can be used for significantly more. Forensic units could pick up DNA from the air to determine if a suspect had been present at the scene. It can also be useful in medicine ̵
Any practical uses are far away. The research unit is already working with private companies such as NatureMetrics to develop practical applications. It’s easy to see limitations – you want to use this in areas where you know what DNA you can expect, so it may not work well in crowded rooms or outdoors. However, just having this option can be very useful in situations where surfaces do not provide clear answers.