Human DNA can be collected from anywhere — even air, scientists discover

Beware, bad guys—your DNA is in the air.

Human DNA has been shown to be present almost everywhere, including furniture, footprints, and even free space, making it possible to sequence it in the future.

Environmental samples from the US and Ireland were collected and evaluated by researchers, who discovered that high-quality human DNA may be easily found and associated with an individual.

The research, which was published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, demonstrated that so-called ambient DNA is sufficient to ascertain the genetic origin of adjacent populations as well as to assist in determining how illnesses evolve locally. It also demonstrated how eDNA may pave the way for breakthroughs in forensics and health.

A team from the University of Florida lead by David Duffy, an assistant professor of wildlife disease genomics, collected samples locally and internationally with the consent of all individuals who gave their DNA for the study.

They collected barefoot human footprints from the beach, water samples from rivers and seas, pristine beach sand, and air samples from various locations.

With the exception of two distant national parks and solitary islands, the researchers discovered evidence of human life practically everywhere they looked.

Scientists discovered eDNA in air samples taken from a veterinary clinic, and they were able to connect it to the employees, animal patients, and common animal infections.

Researchers claim that eDNA might be used to find hidden archaeological sites, track cancer and other illness alterations, and even use airborne suspect identification at crime scenes.

Throughout this investigation, Duffy noted, "We've been continually surprised at the quantity and quality of human DNA we find." The majority of the time, the quality is nearly identical to that of a human sample.

The ground-breaking discovery, however, raises moral questions and may endanger personal privacy because such practical DNA collection may make it easier to gather genetic data without a person's express agreement.

"Every time we create a technical advancement, there are positive applications for the technology as well as negative applications. Nothing has changed," Duffy said. We are attempting to bring up these concerns early in order to give society and legislators time to create legislation.