Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Phytolites' DNA

12.06.2006
Cells with perfectly intact nuclei were discovered in the remains of leaves and fruit of two tree species which grew in the early eocene (about 55 million years ago) in the territory of Yakutia. DNA from nuclei of ancient cells will allow to specify kinship between fossil finds and contemporary plants. The article about the Russian researchers’ discovery has just been published in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society (2006, 150: 315-321).

Specialists of the V.L. Komarov Botanical Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences (St. Petersburg ) – Igor Ozerov, Nadezhda Zhinkina, Alexander Rodionov, Alexander Efimov and Eduard Machs have discovered DNA in the remains of leaves and fruit of fossil trees which got the names of Paramyrtaciphyllum and Paramyrtacicarpus. They used to grow in the territory of Yakutia in the early eocene, i.e. about 55 million years ago. Fossil leaves and fruit resemble respective organs of plants of the Eugenia (Myrtaceae gen.) family, where eucalyptus and feijoa belong. Future investigations will prove if the eocene trees really belong to this family: after all, resemblance may be deceptive.

Fortunately, despite such considerable age, the these plants’ cells are surprisingly well preserved: nuclei can be seen in them under a light microscope. Moreover, these nuclei get the typical pink tint after being processed by special reagents, which have been used by cytologists for more than 80 years in order to reveal DNAs.

DNA molecules passed from parents to their posterity bring us traces of events in evolutionary history. By comparing certain DNA sections’ structure of different living creatures, scientists reveal kinship between them. Contemporary biological taxonomy is already impossible to imagine without evolutionary kinship schemes of organisms (phylogenetic trees) based on molecular data. The DNA structure determination has now become a routine laboratory procedure, and it is already difficult to find such a plant or an animal, whereof individual sections of these gigantic molecules have not been studied. So far, only fossil organisms are exceptions.

Some researchers managed to educe DNAs from remains of plants and animals aged several dozens of million years, however, such finds always provoked deep scepticism on behalf of their colleagues. Scepticism is understandable: it seems incredible that macromoluecules could be preserved for so long. It is easier to assume that educed DNAs belonged not to the ancient organism but got into its remains together with some organic contaminations.

The find by Igor Ozerov and his colleagues is above such suspicion. They have managed to see fossil DNA with their own eyes under the microscope. Thereby they have proved that they deal with “native” macromoluecules of fossil trees, and not with the results of later contamination.

Such find is great luck: fossil remains of plants are very rarely preserved so well. But, on the other hand, there is nothing extraordinary about the find. Examples have long been known of excellent preservation of dead cells structure and their macromolecules for thousands of years (for example, in tissues of mammoths' dead bodies), and analysis of DNA from herbarium specimen collected more than 200 years ago has become a commonplace for botanists. The eocene trees’ remains are in a way a “herbarium” as well, which remained intact due to a very rare combination of natural conditions.

Decoding structures of DNAs from ancient cells is still ahead. This effort is connected with new difficulties: within millions of years, large molecules fell into small fragments, which do not always allow to work with them by commom methods. The St. Petersburg researchers, however, hope that DNA analysis will allow to identify exactly to what contemporary plants Paramyrtaciphyllum and Paramyrtacicarpus relate.

Sergey Komarov | alfa
Further information:
http://www.informnauka.ru

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cells communicate in a dynamic code
19.02.2018 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Studying mitosis' structure to understand the inside of cancer cells
19.02.2018 | Biophysical Society

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

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...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

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...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

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...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

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...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Contacting the molecular world through graphene nanoribbons

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

When Proteins Shake Hands

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

Cells communicate in a dynamic code

19.02.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>