Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Resurrected mammoth blood very cool

A team of international researchers has brought the primary component of mammoth blood back to life using ancient DNA preserved in bones from Siberian specimens 25,000 to 43,000 years old.

Studies of recreated mammoth haemoglobin, published today (Monday 3 May) in Nature Genetics, reveal special evolutionary adaptations that allowed the mammoth to cool its extremities down in harsh Arctic conditions to minimise heat loss.

"It has been remarkable to bring a complex protein from an extinct species, such as the mammoth, back to life," says Professor Alan Cooper, Director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) at the University of Adelaide, where the mammoth haemoglobin sequences were determined.

"This is true palaeobiology, as we can study and measure how these animals functioned as if they were alive today."

Professor Cooper is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow and a member of the University's Environment Institute.

"We've managed to uncover physiological attributes of an animal that hasn't existed for thousands of years," says team leader Professor Kevin Campbell of the University of Manitoba, Canada. "Our approach opens the way to studying the biomolecular and physiological characteristics of extinct species, even for features that leave no trace in the fossil record."

The project began over seven years ago when Professor Campbell contacted Professor Cooper, who was then based at the University of Oxford, to suggest resurrecting mammoth haemoglobin.

"At the time, I thought 'what a great idea' – but it's never going to work," says Professor Cooper. "Still, bringing an extinct protein back to life is such an important concept, we've got to try it."

The team converted the mammoth haemoglobin DNA sequences into RNA, and inserted them into modern-day E. coli bacteria, which then manufactured the authentic mammoth protein.

"The resulting haemoglobin molecules are no different than 'going back in time' and taking a blood sample from a real mammoth," says Professor Campbell.

The team used modern scientific physiological tests and chemical modelling to characterise the biochemical properties that confer mammoths with physiological cold tolerance.

Team member Professor Roy Weber of the University of Aarhus, Denmark, who performed the physiological testing on the mammoth proteins, says the findings help show how the mammoth survived the extreme Arctic cold.

"Three highly unusual changes in the protein sequence allowed the mammoth's blood to deliver oxygen to cells even at very low temperatures, something that indicates adaptation to the Arctic environment," Professor Weber says.

"We can now apply similar approaches to other extinct species, such as Australian marsupials," says team member Dr Jeremy Austin, ACAD Deputy Director, who is currently using ancient DNA to study the evolution and extinction of the thylacine and Tasmanian Devil.

Professor Alan Cooper | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>