*The first reported collection of human and animal DNA from ambient air is a
boon for researchers in forensic archeology, ecology, and population

In a first, scientists have revealed that animal and human DNA can be
plucked straight out of thin air. The development heralds a promising new
scientific technique with possible applications for ecology, forensics, and
medicine, according to a new study.

Because animals shed cells into their environments, researchers can use
water or soil samples to hunt for environmental DNA (eDNA), which provides a
novel source of information about the lifeforms that inhabit any given area
even if they are not present for DNA collection. The collection of eDNA has
been pioneered in aquatic and underground environments, offering a data-rich
and non-invasive way to examine species and their habitats.

Now, a team led by Elizabeth Clare, senior lecturer at Queen Mary University
of London (QMUL), has provided the “first proof of concept demonstration
that air samples are a viable source of DNA for the identification of
species in the environment,'' according to a study published on Wednesday
<https://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.11030> in the journal *PeerJ*.

Plant and fungal eDNA has been snatched from the air before, but Clare was
surprised to find that there were no analogous studies for animals in the
scientific literature. She noted, though, that a pair of high school
students from Japan presented a bird-focused eDNA concept at a science fair.

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