Researchers from U of G's Biodiversity Institute of Ontario (BIO) have discovered that mescal itself contains the DNA of the agave butterfly caterpillar — the famously tasty "worm" that many avoid consuming. Their findings will appear in the March issue of BioTechniques, which is available online now.
The BIO researchers set out to test a hypothesis that DNA from a preserved specimen can leak into its preservative liquid. As part of their study, they tested a sample of liquid from a bottle of mescal. The liquor was found to contain DNA, which they amplified and sequenced to obtain a DNA barcode — telltale genetic material that identifies species of living things.
Comparing the sample to thousands of records of Lepidoptera DNA barcodes stored in the Barcode of Life Data Systems database at Guelph confirmed that the mescal liquid contained DNA related to the agave's family.
"This is a surprising result," said research team member Mehrdad Hajibabaei, Assistant Professor, BIO and Department of Integrative Biology. He noted that mescal contains only 40 per cent ethanol and potentially many impurities that can degrade DNA.
"Showing that the DNA of a preserved specimen can be obtained from the preservative liquid introduces a range of important possibilities," Hajibabaei said. "We can develop inexpensive, high-throughput, field-friendly and non-invasive genetic analysis protocols for situations where the original tissue cannot be touched or when there is simply no sample left for analysis."
The scientists also successfully identified other "fresh" specimens contained in preservative ethanol — including whole insects (caddisflies and mayflies) and plant leaves — as well as seven preserved specimens collected seven to 10 years earlier.
The study is part of the technology development phase of the International Barcode of Life Project (iBOL). Based at U of G, it's the largest biodiversity genomics project ever undertaken. More than 200 scientists from 25 countries are creating DNA barcode reference library for all life, developing new technologies to access it and applying DNA barcoding in economically, socially and environmentally beneficial ways.
For more information or to arrange an interview contact:John Chenery
Cells communicate in a dynamic code
19.02.2018 | California Institute of Technology
Studying mitosis' structure to understand the inside of cancer cells
19.02.2018 | Biophysical Society
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.02.2018 | Life Sciences