Tracking animals through e-DNA
- According to some studies, DNA floating in the air (e-DNA) can boost biodiversity conservation efforts across the world.
- Researchers have independently shown that environmental DNA (e-DNA) have the potential to identify and monitor terrestrial animals.
- Animals shed DNA through their breath, saliva, fur, or feces into the environment and these samples are called e-DNA.
- Airborne e-DNA sampling is a biomonitoring method that is rising in popularity among biologists and conservationists as it provides abundant information.
- It will help in understanding the composition of animal communities
- It will also detect the spread of non-native species.
- This method will be tuned with the current techniques to monitor endangered species.
- Methods currently used by biologists to observe animals in person or by picking up DNA from animals’ footprints or feces, demand extensive fieldwork.
- Spotting animals can be challenging, especially if they inhabit inaccessible habitats.
- It can help in tracking long-distance migratory birds and other birds’ flying patterns.
- It can also capture DNA from smaller animals including insects.
- Global EDNA Project by UNESCO
- It was launched to study the vulnerability of species to climate change at Marine World Heritage Sites in October 2021.
- DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the hereditary material in organisms that contains the biological instructions for building and maintaining them.
- The chemical structure of DNA is the same for all organisms, but differences exist in the order of the DNA building blocks, known as base pairs.
- Unique sequences of base pairs, particularly repeating patterns, provide a means to identify species, populations, and even individuals.
- Environmental DNA (e-DNA) is nuclear or mitochondrial DNA that is released from an organism into the environment.
- Sources of e-DNA include secreted feces, mucous, and gametes; shed skin and hair; and carcasses.
- e-DNA can be detected in cellular or extracellular (dissolved DNA) form.
- In aquatic environments, eDNA is diluted and distributed by currents and other hydrological processes, but it only lasts about 7–21 days, depending on environmental conditions.
- Exposure to UVB radiation, acidity, heat, and endo- and exonucleases can degrade e-DNA.