The Mystery of Googolplex: Trillion-DNA Strands in California Mud

  • Thread starter jim mcnamara
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In summary, researchers have discovered extracellular very large DNA strands, known as borgs, that contain methanogenic DNA sequences and may have originated from bacteria. These bacteria are difficult to grow in a lab, so researchers have turned to searching through trillions of DNA strands found in mud samples. These borgs may be able to incorporate into a host organism's genome, potentially aiding in evolution and adaptation. This phenomenon is not limited to microbes, as there are known cases of lateral transfer among animals. Humans also have about 8% of their DNA composed of viral sequences, which may have been integrated into their genome millions of years ago. These sequences are often inactive, but may eventually evolve new functions.
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jim mcnamara
TL;DR Summary
Extracellular huge DNA strands found in anoxic soils. The strands were named 'borgs' because the kid of the researcher suggested it - too much Star Trek I guess.

These are extracellular very large DNA strands that have some methanogenic DNA sequences. The researchers feel that these bacteria may be the source of borgs. Since growing methanogens in the lab is difficult, the researchers have rely on searching through incredible numbers of DNA strands found in samples of mud. The article mentions sorting through literally trillions of extracellular DNA strands in the samples.

-- posted because, in part, names for new "things" sometimes are inspired by children. Example from Mathworld:

Googolplex is a large number equal to. (i.e., 1 with a googol number of 0s written after it). The term was coined in 1938 after 9-year-old Milton Sirotta, nephew of Edward Kasner, coined the term "googol" and Kasner extended it to this larger number (Kasner 1989, pp. 20-27; Bialik 2004).

Googolplex -- from Wolfram MathWorld​ › Googolplex
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If I read it correctly, another interesting point is that it is possible for these DNA strands to be incorporated into an organism's genome perhaps helping them to evolve and adapt to new environments. Should we let our kids play in the dirt?
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How bizarre. Hopefully, they can get some culture-based experiments done.
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gleem said:
If I read it correctly, another interesting point is that it is possible for these DNA strands to be incorporated into an organism's genome perhaps helping them to evolve and adapt to new environments. Should we let our kids play in the dirt?
With Eukaryotic cells?

Lateral transfer has been known about for a while but I always associated it with microbes plasmids etc
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There are rare cases among metazoans (animals).
Bdellid rotifers provide a well documented, long term example.
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FWIW humans have about 8% of DNA is from other "things", notably retroviruses, which embed viral DNA into our DNA. Termed "DNA integration"

Example: ::
Retroviruses use viral enzymes to copy their own genome, which is stored in an RNA transcript, into DNA. Now recognizable by the host's genome, the virus can integrate into one of the host's chromosomes. In this study, Mitchell et al. studied vectors derived from the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), avian sarcoma-leukosis virus (ASLV), and murine leukemia virus (MLV). Introducing the viral vectors into human cells, the authors analyzed the gene expression profiles of the cells to determine where vectors integrate into human chromosomes and which, if any, genes they activate. ...
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What happens when one of these new genes strikes a chord with the host's genome?
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It would have to integrated into the new genome.
Then it would probably evolve to better work with that specific genome it ended up in (interact better with the other parts of the genome).
May eventually (over long periods of time) evolve new functions
  • #9
Often times nothing happens. This perception is because of the DNA having been there for really long periods of time. The genes in the DNA appear not to be expressed. Note the weasel words...

They are usually called 'Ancient virus'. They are virus genome sequences that have been "dragged along" in our genome going as far back as 40 million years. Most seem to be inactive. The sequences came from three genera: Bornavirus, Ebolavirus, and Margurgvirus. Note that virus taxonomy is really weird compared to plant and animal taxonomy. There no species in viral taxonomy, there are what are termed "quasispecies" of virus.

Ancient DNA from these viruses make up about 8% of human DNA.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1001030
Unexpected inheritance: multiple integrations of ancient bornavirus and ebolavirus/marburgvirus sequences in vertebrate genomes
Vladimir A Belyi 1 , Arnold J Levine, Anna Marie Skalka

For a better answer to @gleem
-> A more student friendly article about 'the non-human living in you':

Related to The Mystery of Googolplex: Trillion-DNA Strands in California Mud

What is Googolplex?

Googolplex is a mathematical term that refers to the number 10^googol, or 10 to the power of a googol (a 1 followed by 100 zeros). It is an extremely large number that is often used in theoretical mathematics.

What is the significance of Trillion-DNA Strands in California Mud?

The discovery of trillion-DNA strands in California mud is significant because it challenges our current understanding of DNA and its complexity. It suggests that there may be more to DNA than the double helix structure that we are familiar with.

How were these trillion-DNA strands discovered in California Mud?

The trillion-DNA strands were discovered through a process called metagenomics, which involves sequencing the DNA of an entire environment rather than just a single organism. This allowed scientists to uncover the vast diversity of DNA present in the California mud.

What does this mean for our understanding of DNA and its role in life?

This discovery suggests that there may be a much greater diversity of DNA than we previously thought, and that it may play a more complex role in life than just encoding genetic information. It also opens up new possibilities for research and understanding the origins of life.

What are the potential applications of this research?

The research on trillion-DNA strands in California mud could have a wide range of applications, from improving our understanding of evolution and the origins of life, to potential medical and biotechnological advancements. It could also lead to new technologies and techniques for studying and manipulating DNA.