AirScape’s AirNode sensors, primarily designed to measure air pollution, were used in a groundbreaking study that has significantly broadened their application. This research demonstrated that environmental DNA (eDNA), the genetic material shed by organisms into their surrounding environment, is not just found in water or soil – it’s also in the air around us.
In the study, “Detection of airborne vertebrate eDNA: Applications for aerobiology and monitoring”, researchers including our CSO, Matthew Johnson, found atmospheric eDNA from various animal species, reshaping our understanding of ecological monitoring. Traditionally, studying biodiversity often requires labour-intensive surveys and, sometimes, invasive physical trapping of species. However, this study shows that eDNA research can provide a non-invasive, efficient, and comprehensive alternative.
AirNode sensors were used to collect, filter, and analyse airborne eDNA. By capturing microscopic particles from sources like skin cells, hair, and pollen, the researchers could match the resulting genetic codes to an extensive database of known sequences from different species. This process identified a wide range of local vertebrate taxa without visual confirmation or physical trapping, offering a non-invasive and efficient way to monitor biodiversity.
And the story doesn’t end there. Our AirNode sensors could detect hard-to-find species, such as those living in dry environments, burrows, caves, or flying beyond the range of wildlife cameras. This dramatically expands the reach of ecological studies and shows that our AirNode sensors can provide insights beyond just air pollution.
Challenges remain, such as understanding the travel distance of eDNA, deciphering how animals shed DNA, and preventing contamination. However, looking back at this revolutionary study, we’re excited about the future of biodiversity monitoring. It’s clear that the potential of AirNode sensors extends far beyond measuring air pollution – the secrets of biodiversity are literally in the air!
Discover more about our cutting-edge AirNode sensors here.
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