For many years it appeared the extraction of aDNA from fossils trapped in amber was a reality, as several studies from the early 1990s to today have purported to recover aDNA from mostly bacterial species, and a few insects and plants. These studies were primarily based on identification of aDNA through polymerase chain reaction (PCR). PCR is the process of synthesising more DNA from existing DNA. In this technique, the DNA is not directly extracted from the sample and sequenced, but instead the quantity of DNA is increased through successive rounds of synthesis and then the amplified bits are sequenced. Unfortunately, PCR will preferentially amplify more abundant and undamaged modern DNA over degraded aDNA. This suggests that any contamination in the sample will be overrepresented and possibly hide any true aDNA.
These results effectively end the idea that amber-entrapment is effective in DNA preservation. Since aDNA was not detected in the young copal then results in even older amber stand to be the same or worse. The authors have had previous success isolating aDNA from Mycobacterium tuberculosis in human bone, as published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and archeological plant remains from charred cereal grains, as published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, so it is tough to disregard the most recent results. In the words of Dr Penney, “Unfortunately, the Jurassic Park scenario must remain in the realms of fiction”.
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For more information you can read my blog post here: http://www.brownspaceman.com/first-images-from-new-apex-camera/
Or check out the official press release: http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1341/
Good to know there will be a host of Reader replacements once the (silly, really silly) decision of Google's to shut down Reader takes effect in a few weeks.
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