Molecular ecology Organisms release genetic material into the wild unnoticed – A simple air sample may now be enough to identify species

Researchers are collecting samples called environmental dna, which reveal a variety of varieties.

What animals moving in the nearby forest?

Species identification has traditionally relied on retrospective or visual observations, but the same thing can be said about the environment dna, or edna. It is a genetic material that organisms inadvertently spread into nature.

For example the lake is rich in fish dna, which can be filtered from a water sample and isolated and sequenced in the laboratory. The final result reveals which species thrive in the water body under study.

A sample of soil, snow or water is not always needed. The air is thick with gases, water vapor and aerosols.

There are also many fragments inherited from different organisms.

As identification methods have become more sensitive, in addition to pollen and dusting allergens, the DNA of animals can be found in the air, from which an accurate estimate of the species moving in the vicinity can be made.

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Air samples has been tested especially in zoos because there are species that are not otherwise found in the wild. In this way, identification is not left to conjecture.

Molecular ecologist Elizabeth Claren research team Downloaded dozens of samples from the interior and exterior of a British zoo.

They were analyzed in the laboratory and matched pairs were searched for in the global databases for the obtained DNA sequences.

Clare and colleagues was able to identify 25 different mammalian and avian species from the samples. The group also included representatives of nearby nature, including the hedgehog and Capricorn, who lived on the outskirts of the shelter.

DNA from some zoo residents was found up to 300 meters away from the fences. Hair, scaly skin and cells are likely to hover in the air for very long distances.

Danish Kristine Bohmann was able to do even better. On air samples from the Copenhagen Zoo 49 DNA of vertebrate species were revealed.

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Both studies reported Science Journal.

New ones methods based on molecular biology may revolutionize the mapping of as yet unknown biodiversity.

Most of the plant and animal species on Earth are still undiscovered. There are only less than two million species described for science, while perhaps tens of millions of species of organisms.

The methods are of particular help when searching for hidden and poorly known groups of organisms. The species itself need not be found as long as its DNA is found.

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