Researchers in the UK have successfully isolated airborne mammalian DNA, showing that in air, just as in water, animals leave behind invisible but useful traces of themselves that scientists can monitor. The results, published March 31 in PeerJ, represent a new direction for environmental DNA (eDNA) research that could one day lead to advances in forensic science and public health, in addition to ecological surveillance.
“This is really the first time airborne samples have been used to look at mammals, and it’s very exciting,” says Mark Johnson, an ecologist at Texas Tech University who has used airborne DNA to study plants and was not involved in the current work. Through his own research, Johnson adds, “we’ve learned that airborne DNA is a lot broader than what we originally gave it credit for, and I think this paper opens the door for expanding into new areas.”Amanda Heidt, “Environmental DNA Can Be Pulled from the Air” at The Scientist
What becomes of all these carefully constructed theses based on sexual selection and such if DNA flies first class?
The paper is open access.
See also: Horizontal gene transfer between vertebrates: herring and smelt We don’t know that HGT is “extremely rare” in vertebrates. We know that it was unexpected so no one was looking for it. We also know that it is extremely inconvenient for a discipline that invested so heavily in natural selection acting on random mutations (Darwinism).