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Jurassic park lecture

Ed Rybicki ed at MOLBIOL.UCT.AC.ZA
Wed Mar 5 02:30:30 EST 1997

> From:          Anthonie Muller <awjm at holyrood.ed.ac.uk>
> Subject:       Re: Jurassic park lecture
> When I read all this talk about DNA conservation in amber, I must always
> think about H.J.Dombrowski, who  claimed to have isolated bacteria from
> old salt deposits (see for instance Umschau 23 (1965) 736-736). It seems
> to me that a high salt concentration may very well protect against all
> kind of degrading effects.
> Why is his work ignored? Have I missed an obvious counterargument?

Strikes me as a lot of paradigms are getting overturned in the field
of amplification of ancient DNA / reviving bacteria from ages
past...Svante Paabo went on a crusade a while back against REALLY
ancient DNA with the same arguments used in a previous post to this
group; trouble is, people kept amplifying it despite the fact that 
natural oxidative / degradative processes were supposed to have nuked 
it beyond recognition after only a couple of thousand years!!!  New 
Scientist has just run an article on brine shrimp which can survive 
for years in a totally lifeless (as in: not metabolising ANYTHING) 
state; why then should bacteria not be able to be dehydrated out of 
sight, and still recover viability?  Even after a couple of million 
years, if conditions are favourable?  While life may not be more 
resilinet than we CAN imagine, it is probably more hardy than we DO 
imagine.  Someone ought to repeat the salt work; sounds like a good 
seam to mine (sorry)!

                     Ed Rybicki, PhD  
      Dept Microbiology     |   ed at molbiol.uct.ac.za   
   University of Cape Town  | rybicki at uctvms.uct.ac.za
   Private Bag, Rondebosch  |  phone: x27-21-650-3265
      7700, South Africa    |   fax: x27-21-689 7573
    WWW URL: http://www.uct.ac.za/microbiology/ed.html      
    "Out here on the perimeter, there are no stars..."

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