December 17, 2021
Conservationists are always searching for ways to detect species, which can help monitor biodiversity and the health of ecosystems. Traditional methods to detect species include catch and release, but this is a hands on approach that can be distressing for the animals, and can be challenging with elusive or very small animals. Newer methods, such as using environmental DNA (eDNA) can help detect species present in an ecosystem without anyone have to see or capture them.
Researchers from Sweden have used eDNA to specifically look for insects. Collecting eDNA from water and soil are tried and tested methods, but collecting eDNA from air is less common, but that is exactly what these researchers have been able to do. They collected air samples from three locations, and from this they were able to detect DNA from birds, mammals, plants, fungi and insects.
At the same time as these air samples were collected, they also used more traditional methods (light traps and transect walks) to detect insects. The results of the different tests were compared, and showed that the different testing methods detected some of the same insects, but there were also differences. Preliminary results shows that the airborne eDNA sampling detected a more diverse range of insect species than the traditional methods. Although the eDNA collected from air was able to detect some species, it wasn’t able to detect all the species detected by the traditional methods, which suggests that more work is required to develop this new technique. Once this method is improved, it has tremendous potential to change the way that conservationists are able to track and monitor different species.
Source: The Guardian
Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/dec/13/airborne-dna-used-to-detect-insect-species-in-breakthrough-for-ecologists
You may also wish to watch our short video about eDNA: https://www.genomebc.ca/20-cool-genomics-facts/facts_4-5