It is a discovery which will be able to help the scientific police in the resolution of criminal cases. For the first time, researchers have succeeded in removing human DNA in air samples.
As is often the case with a scientific discovery, it happened completely by accident. Basically, these scientists from Queen Mary University in London wanted to take DNA from rats by capturing air in their artificial burrows. Not just any kind of animal, it matters, hairless mole rats, they’re hairless rats with walrus teeth. After several months, they took 12 samples from the air filters and sequenced them. As a result, not only did they find rat DNA in the air but also human DNA! That of the men who took care of these rats during all these months. A first in both cases. These researchers have just published their discovery in the scientific journal PeerJ.
DNA is a kind of tracer that allows us to know how a species evolves, how it moves, in order to better protect it. For now, ecologists and conservationists are using what is called environmental DNA, the traces left by animals, by all living organisms, in water, in soils, in sediments. With this discovery, they will be able to monitor bats, for example, by taking air in the inaccessible caves where they live or else collect information in tree trunks or burrows.
Forensic scientists will probably be happy to know that if there is no hair or fingerprints at the scene of a crime, they can track down the criminal by taking an air sample in which there will be his DNA. .
And then there is another interest, in the midst of the Covid epidemic, we still do not know with precision the scope of the aerosols that we reject through the nose and through the mouth, their ability to contaminate others. With this method of detecting DNA in the air, we can get a more precise idea by applying the same method to collect viral particles and RNA. It could have an impact on barrier gestures, the two meters distance that we must respect between us.