Molecular ecologist at Queen Mary University of London, Elizabeth Clare, has published the results of testing a new technology for capturing DNA from the air. This macromolecule is large enough to leave the host organism under certain conditions and, together with skin particles, saliva drops and other small fractions, be transported through the air. Scientists have figured out how to find it in order to conduct a quick analysis and understand who it belongs to.
The researchers already had an existing filter for detecting DNA in liquid, it was modernized to work with air and equipped with a powerful pump for pumping large volumes of gas. This is the main difficulty – the concentration of DNA molecules in the air is often so negligible that the filter simply does not react to them. You have to pass a lot of gas through it to get at least some clue.
However, everything changes dramatically if you analyze the air in a confined space, where a living creature is very often. In their experiment, British scientists built a system of artificial holes in which they settled naked African mole rats, let them settle down, and then began to take air samples from different parts of the maze. This will be very useful in practice, because it will allow you to simply study the air at the entrance to an unknown hole in order to understand who lives there, without unnecessary risk and waste of time. In the future, it is not excluded that the technology will adapt to search for people – in the metro, inside buildings, and so on.