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DNA collected from air could revolutionize the monitoring of biodiversity
Two independent teams of researchers -- one based in Denmark and the other in the United Kingdom and Canada -- set out to collect several air samples from two European zoos: Hamerton Zoo Park in the U.K. and Copenhagen Zoo in Denmark. Their findings, published Thursday in the journal Current Biology, showed the presence of a wide range of animal species both within and outside the two zoos.
"We were even able to collect eDNA [environmental DNA] from animals that were hundreds of meters away from where we were testing without a significant drop in the concentration, and even from outside sealed buildings.
UK virus [RNA] hunting labs seek to bolster global variant network
The laboratory is one example of how British scientists have industrialized the process of genomic sequencing during the pandemic, cutting the time and cost needed to generate a unique genetic fingerprint for each coronavirus case analyzed.
Britain made sequencing a priority early in the pandemic after Cambridge University Professor Sharon Peacock identified the key role it could play in combating the virus and won government funding for a national network of scientists, laboratories and testing centers known as the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium.
That has helped slash the cost of analyzing each genome by 50% while reducing the turnaround time from sample to sequence to five days from three weeks, according to Wellcome Sanger.

Increasing sequencing capacity is like building a pipeline, according to Dr. Eric Topol, chair of innovative medicine at Scripps Research in San Diego, California. In addition to buying expensive sequencing machines, countries need supplies of chemical reagents, trained staff to carry out the work and interpret the sequences, and systems to ensure that data is shared quickly and transparently.

archived Tue Jul 13th, 2021
by Cat on Wed Jan 19th, 2022 at 01:52:27 PM EST
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