airborne DNA

PHE’s marine eDNA expert Mark Stoeckle comments on new papers on airborne eDNA in the video Scientists ID Dozens of Plants, Animals from Free-Floating DNA. In a trio of studies, researchers report capturing and analyzing airborne prepared for the magazine and website The Scientist.  The report is spurred by widely reported terrific new papers measuring airborne DNA around zoos.

While presented as a first, in fact under the auspices of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation beginning in 2005 Paula Olsiewski and Jesse Ausubel recruited and managed a series of grants to explore the potential for airborne DNA studies. The largest grant went to the Venter Institute, which pioneered the techniques:

After Mapping the Human Genome, Analyzing the City’s Air Mar 7, 2005 — Dr J Craig Venter will study New York City’s air by installing filter system atop one of Midtown-Manhattan’s skyscrapers and studying its …  

  Among resulting publications: A metagenomic framework for the study of airborne microbial communities  …, J Glass, MD Adams, R Friedman, JC Venter – PloS one, 2013 – journals.plos.org  Understanding the microbial content of the air has important scientific, health, and economic  implications. While studies have primarily characterized the taxonomic content of air samples by sequencing the 16S or 18S ribosomal RNA gene, direct analysis of the genomic …

Among other findings, while focusing on microbial aspects, the Venter team found more rat DNA circulating in the air of NY than human DNA.