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Ancient Bacteria...

by Orion1
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Orion1
#1
Dec29-08, 02:00 PM
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I have been reading reports about a scientist that has claimed to have cultured bacteria spores that are around 30 million years old, and another research group has claimed to have revived 250 million year old bacteria from spores trapped in salt crystals.

Two microbiologists have resuscitated a microorganism which had been suspended in an insect embalmed in amber. The scientists have found approx. 1,000 species of bacteria which remained in suspended animation for 25 to 40 million years. Studying ancient bacteria may help scientists understand DNA mutation.

Bacillus is an ancient genus of bacteria that is known to form endospores. The spores are protected from the effects of heat, radiation, pressure and environmental contamination by a thick, protective protein coat. Bacteria can remain in this dehydrated cryptobiotic state for millions of years, said Dr. Raul Cano, a microbiologist at Cal Poly.

Raul J. Cano claims he resurrected at least 30 to 40 species of bacteria from ancient spores, and grew them on culture plates. Now he's analyzing those bacteria. Most, he says, are members of the genus Bacillus, an ancient, spore-forming group of bacteria that is widely distributed today. Some members of the genus (Bacillus thuringiensis) are used for biological control of insects.

Raul J. Cano and Monica K. Borucki discovered the bacteria preserved within the abdomens of insects encased in pieces of amber. In the last 4 years, they have revived more than 1,000 types of bacteria and microorganisms -- some dating back as far as 135 million years ago, during the age of the dinosaurs.

In the May 19 Science, the two, from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, describe resuscitating a species of bacteria from a sample of amber 25 million to 40 million years old.

Cano and Borucki revived the spores in a nutrient solution and grew colonies of bacteria, which they identified as Bacillus sphaericus, a species that exists symbiotically in some bees.

Cano believes the spores survived because the amber kept them dry. Recent work has demonstrated amber's remarkable preserving power. In 1993, Cano reported finding the oldest known DNA from insects in amber.

In October 2000, another research group used many of the techniques developed by Cano’s lab to revive 250-million-year-old bacteria from spores trapped in salt crystals. With this additional evidence, it now seems that the "impossible" is true.

Hundreds of millions of years ago, before dinosaurs roamed the planet, an ocean rippled where the sun now bakes a New Mexico desert. As that seawater evaporated, its salt crystallized, sometimes trapping pockets of brine.

Covered by sediments over the years, those salt deposits currently sit half a mile below the desert floor. Microbiologists who have procured samples of the salt crystals and carefully tapped into the pockets, called inclusions, now claim to have isolated and revived bacteria that were last active 250 million years ago.

If the salt-derived microbes are hundreds of millions of years old, comparing their DNA with that of modern organisms should prove illuminating. "You can actually look at evolution on a molecular basis and do molecular paleontology."

Reference:
Jurassic Park II - natures preservative
Dr. Raul J. Cano' s research laboratory - broken webpage
Ancient bacteria brought back to life - microbiologists Raul J. Cano and Monica K. Borucki at California Polytechnic State University
Raśl Cano - The Scientist Who Revived 30-Million-Year-Old Bacteria
Prehistoric bacteria revived from buried salt
Insects in baltic amber - Wikipedia
Fossil amber with a bee - Wikipedia
Phys.Org News Partner Biology news on Phys.org
Bees able to spot which flowers offer best rewards before landing
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Classic Lewis Carroll character inspires new ecological model
jim mcnamara
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Dec29-08, 08:00 PM
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Part of the problem with that research is that it is now known that there are large volumes of archeabacteria - primitive organisms - that live in the earth's crust and have been there, growing, for very long periods of time.

It is really hard to to assert that you isolated some long dormant organism 300 million years old, when it is known that the earth's crust is riddled with these things and they are currently known to be living right now. So, which hypothesis relies on the simplest explanation, one that invokes the least amount of "leading edge" brand new science?

It does not mean it cannot be correct, just that it is reasonably unlikely. And there are much less exotic explanations. Are there papers from refereed journals on this subject that are recent - like in the past 4 years?
Orion1
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Dec30-08, 03:49 AM
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Quote Quote by jim mcnamara
Are there papers from refereed journals on this subject that are recent - like in the past 4 years?
The most recent paper I could locate by Cano via cross-referencing Google and Wikipedia is from 1995.

Raśl J. Cano and Monica K. Borucki, “Revival and Identification of Bacterial Spores in 25- to 40-Million-Year-Old Dominican Amber,” Science, Vol. 268, 19 May 1995, pp. 1060–1064.

Abstract:
A bacterial spore was revived, cultured, and identified from the abdominal contents of extinct bees preserved for 25 to 40 million years in buried Dominican amber. Rigorous surface decontamination of the amber and aseptic procedures were used during the recovery of the bacterium. Several lines of evidence indicated that the isolated bacterium was of ancient origin and not an extant Contaminant. The characteristic enzymatic, biochemical, and 16S ribosomal DNA profiles indicated that the ancient bacterium is most closely related to extant Bacillus sphaericus.

Reference:
Archaea - Wikipedia
www.sciencemag.org - Raśl J. Cano
adsabs.harvard.edu - Raśl J. Cano
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov - Raśl J. Cano

baywax
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Dec30-08, 11:54 AM
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Ancient Bacteria...

And we wonder where all these "super bugs" are coming from!
mgb_phys
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Dec30-08, 12:14 PM
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Quote Quote by baywax View Post
And we wonder where all these "super bugs" are coming from!
Chickens
Take an animal famous for incubating diseases that cause epidemics in humans.
Feed them all the human antibiotics and a few that aren't used yet in humans.
Keep millions in close proximity in warm humid dirty environments.
Then put them in open sided trucks and drive them around the country so the air borne pathogens can spread out.

It would be a perfect biological weapons system - if you didn't insist on doing it in your own country.
baywax
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Dec30-08, 12:28 PM
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Quote Quote by mgb_phys View Post
Chickens
Take an animal famous for incubating diseases that cause epidemics in humans.
Feed them all the human antibiotics and a few that aren't used yet in humans.
Keep millions in close proximity in warm humid dirty environments.
Then put them in open sided trucks and drive them around the country so the air borne pathogens can spread out.

It would be a perfect biological weapons system - if you didn't insist on doing it in your own country.
Damn saboteurs. Bunch of chicken livered, mad cow herds.
mgb_phys
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Dec30-08, 12:30 PM
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Quote Quote by baywax View Post
Damn saboteurs. Bunch of chicken livered, mad cow herds.
They're organised and clever http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_Run
baywax
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Dec30-08, 02:11 PM
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Quote Quote by mgb_phys View Post
They're organised and clever http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_Run
Anything for a buck... buck buck buck.
Monique
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Dec30-08, 02:28 PM
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Quote Quote by Orion1 View Post
The most recent paper I could locate by Cano via cross-referencing Google and Wikipedia is from 1995.

Raśl J. Cano and Monica K. Borucki, “Revival and Identification of Bacterial Spores in 25- to 40-Million-Year-Old Dominican Amber,” Science, Vol. 268, 19 May 1995, pp. 1060–1064.
The best place to look for (life science related) papers is Pubmed: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez

Search for "Cano RJ" [au] and you will find more recent papers. You can replace [au] by [1au] or [lastau] to look for his first- or last-author papers, respectively.
baywax
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Dec30-08, 02:39 PM
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I better contribute something worthwhile here:

Ancient bacteria offer new line of attack on cystic fibrosis
December 16, 2008

"We have a long way to go before being able to test this idea, but the hope is that if survival in the lung is influenced by phenazine -- or some other electron-shuttling molecule or molecules -- tampering with phenazine trafficking might be a potential way to make antibiotics more effective," said Newman, whose lab investigates how ancestral bacteria on the early Earth evolved the ability to metabolize minerals.
http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2008/a...eria-1216.html
hypatia
#11
Dec31-08, 01:59 AM
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Interesting and well worth keeping a eye on.
mgb_phys
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Dec31-08, 12:24 PM
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When considering their claims note that they have a company that stands to benefit from this. They were also granted a patent on just about anything to do with any ancient biological material.
baywax
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Dec31-08, 12:37 PM
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Quote Quote by mgb_phys View Post
When considering their claims note that they have a company that stands to benefit from this. They were also granted a patent on just about anything to do with any ancient biological material.
There's not a huge database to collect monies from here... though costs are high for treatment and care. These costs may actually drop considerably with an effective deterrent to the disease in use.

In 2004, 460 Americans died of cystic fibrosis, an age-adjusted mortality rate of 1.6 per million population.9 Treatment of the disease has improved substantially over the past 25 years. The median age of survival in 2006 was 36.9 years compared to 25 years in 1985, 14 years in 1969 and 5 years in 1955.10

Recent estimates show an excess of $40,000 per year in direct medical costs and $9,000 per year in secondary costs per cystic fibrosis patient.11
http://www.lungusa.org/site/c.dvLUK9O0E/b.4070499/


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