Recent work by Noah Fierer and others (Craine et al. in press Aerobiologia) examined the distributions of plant DNA in dust inside and outside homes across the US. They sequenced of a chloroplast marker gene to identify the plant DNA found in settled dust collected on indoor and outdoor surfaces across 459 homes. The reported research shows a few interesting patterns. First, there were broad geographic patterns of plant DNA across the US. For example, the Pacific Northwest could be uniquely identified from the DNA of trees and mosses found in homes there. Second, environmental plant DNA signatures were similar inside and outside homes, but some taxa (largely food species) were more abundant inside than outside. There was also little pattern to the prevalence of DNA from plant species that are known to be have allergenic pollen.

In all, the work shows that sequencing dust for plant DNA can provide forensic information and yield information useful to the health sector.

Here at Jonah Ventures, we can analyze the composition of DNA in dust for a number of purposes. The composition of DNA from plants, insects, and fungi can all be quantified from a simple swab of a surface.