DNA is a guide to use for life, each species has its own unique sequence. It is found in every cell of the body and also in other body fluids such as blood, saliva and urine. In recent years, researchers have developed new techniques for detecting very small amounts of DNA, called environmental DNA or eDNA. Thanks to this eDNA, biologists have now been able to detect insects in dried plants for the first time. According to researchers at the University of Trier in the journal Biology Letters, a new study revealed the environmental DNA of hundreds of arthropod species, such as butterflies or mosquitoes, in an ordinary tea bag.
The powder could collect DNA from parts of the tea field
“What really surprised me was the great diversity we found. .[….] We took a tea bag and […] I think it was 100 [oder] 150 milligrams of dried plant material from which we extracted DNA, “said Henrik Krehenwinkel of Trier University in an interview with The Scientist.
“And in green tea, we found up to 400 species of insects in a single tea bag. That really surprised me. The reason is probably that this tea is ground into a relatively fine powder. This is how eDNA works [aus allen Teilen des Teefeldes] distributed. “
The head of research remains at coffee
The eDNA approach has many advantages for researchers over traditional methods such as photo traps. First, it is non-invasive and does not disturb the animals being examined. Second, it can detect species that are rare or elusive and therefore difficult to observe directly. Finally, environmental DNA can be collected relatively cheaply and easily, which is ideal for large-scale monitoring projects. Thanks to these benefits, eDNA could continue to become an indispensable tool for biologists. It is not known whether they consume less tea after their studies.
“I actually drink coffee. […] And I’m afraid the coffee probably isn’t suitable because the coffee is roasted. And what DNA really doesn’t like is heating to a very high temperature for a long time, “explains Krehwinkel. “We haven’t tried it yet, but I’m afraid coffee is probably not the best choice for this type of experiment.”
Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians of Pixabay
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