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Environmetal DNA : A growing tool for the present and future

eDNA a growing tool for the present and future

Just imagine if we can rediscover an animal species that we thought it’s already extinct, even without seeing them. Now it is possible by using eDNA ( Enivironmental DNA ). All living organisms release their DNA into its environment (hair, scale or body fluids), that DNA is known as eDNA. Earlier eDNA analysis only done for aquatic species (water) but nowadays it is common to isolate eDNA from soil, snow and rain samples, even without a visible piece of tissue (hair/scale). Aquatic eDNA widely used for identification of endangered species and invasive species, thereby reduce the time, resource and effort behind the conventional wildlife survey and protection of biodiversity. Apart from monitoring, for the identification of pathogens like fungus, parasites or viruses that can cause disease in wildlife and threaten their survival in the ecosystem are also important for the conservation of endangered species. eDNA (Enivironmental DNA) is fastest growing tool for bio surveys, they are the mixture of DNA samples which live together in the same environment.

 In new study published at Peer J magazine, scientists from Queen Mary University London found that mammalian DNA can be collected from air- “airDNA”. They isolate  and sequence  eDNA ( Enivironmental DNA ) from both naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber) artificial burrow and housing room air, using already established tools and techniques. Further sequence analysis identified naked mole-rat and human DNA in the air. First  human DNA isolated from air, genetic material is moving from its original resource and spreading to its environment. Even though the dilution of DNA in open air is high, this finding can answer some questions in archaeology, forensics and biodiversity. The biosphere is really enriched with tons of DNA, apart from living beings, it is there in the surrounding abiotic environment, with large amount  information about the earth.

Now the scientists are using this technology in disease ecology the secret behind SARS-CoV- 2 which having RNA in their genome. University of Florida health shands hospitals researchers successfully isolate and sequence SARS-CoV- 2 genome from hospital room air – study confirms that air /aerosol as a key route of transmission and Another group of scientist from different research institutes in Germany  isolate and sequence SARS-CoV- 2 genome from waste water (both in aqueous state and solid state)but the isolated virus were not infectious in invitro cell lines and confirmed that waste water is not a major route for  transmission. We can use eDNA ( Enivironmental DNA ) for identification of pathogens without knowing their source, and in future  hopefully develop monitoring systems which can alarm us about an possible outbreak before leading to an epidemic or pandemic.

Reference :

  • Sandra W., Frank-Andreas W.,  Sabrina S., Volker L., Markus B., Marek W., Carola G., Axel J., Henner H., Thomas W., Sandra C. Detection of SARS-CoV-2 in raw and treated wastewater in Germany – Suitability for COVID-19 surveillance and potential transmission risks, Science of The Total Environment, Vol.Vol.75121,141750,ISSN 0048-9697,(
  • Clare EL, Economou CK, Faulkes CG, Gilbert JD, Bennett F, Drinkwater R, Littlefair JE. eDNAir: proof of concept that animal DNA can be collected from air sampling. PeerJ. 2021 Mar 31;9:e11030. doi: 10.7717/peerj.11030. PMID: 33850648; PMCID: PMC8019316.
  • Environmental DNA – how a tool used to detect endangered wildlife ended up helping fight the COVID-19 pandemic by Jessica Alice Farrell, PhD Candidate in Biology, University of Florida, David Duffy, Assistant Professor of Wildlife Disease Genomics, University of Florida, and Liam Whitmore, PhD Candidate, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Limerick;

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Amritha M S
Amritha M S
Biotechnologist, Molecular Biologist, Scientific Article Writer


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