Tuesday, November 14, 2023

DNA testing on Leaves to Determine Biodiversity

Monitoring the biodiversity of different environments have been fundamental in protecting the habitats. For aquatic species, water samples have been collected to study the DNA. Aquatic life sheds its DNA, making it easy to collect from the water. Scientists could only observe the biodiversity by setting up cameras for terrestrial species. The cameras were very inaccurate as some species would avoid them, or the cameras could not be set up in an area that was harder to reach. Scientists have started to collect eDNA (environmental DNA) from the air, but that was time consuming as it takes hours. There have been small 

Recently scientists have begun to collect DNA samples from random leaves by using swabs. The swabs could be used to determine the biodiversity in the habitat. Before this, the swabs had been only used to find the for one specific species DNA on plants. The DNA collected from the swabs were then processed by Lynggard Gogarten. The sequences were then compared to the eDNA data available. The team had found DNA sequences from 50 species in only 72 minutes of swabbing the leaves, with each swab collecting on average DNA from 8 different species. Lynggard is looking to research how long the eDNA stays on the leaves and if the climate and weather affect how well the DNA sticks onto the leaves. 

If the swab method shows that it is reliable, then it will most likely be very useful in collecting data on biodiversity. I believe that this method will prove to be useful because scientists can just find DNA samples on leaves instead of trying to find the animals. This method could also potentially become more widespread due to only needing a swab and a procedure to compare genetic sequences. The current method requires scientists to go into the habitats and set up multiple cameras and hoping to see an animal or spending hours collected airborne eDNA. Although the procedure is very new, there is no downside to being able to determine the biodiversity in an area without harming the environment. 


1 comment:

  1. This is super neat sampling methods, as someone who did forest diversity surveys for a few years, it's super cool to see a more genetic method employed. I am curious by what species the researchers sampled for though, many fungi, yeast, and lichens as well as microscopic invertebrates absolutely LOVE to grow on leaves, thorns, and the bark of trees. I would imagine it might be difficult to figure out what is what with such broad microecosystems existing on these surfaces