Ancient DNA discovered in Antarctica 1 million years ago: ScienceAlert

Ancient DNA discovered in Antarctica 1 million years ago: ScienceAlert
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As we are a species with ever shorter attention spans, it can be difficult to understand how long life has existed on Earth. However, try to get an overview: Scientists have unearthed fragments of DNA that were formed 1 million years ago.

These fragments of organic material, found beneath the bottom of the Scotia Sea north of Antarctica, can be invaluable in chronicling the history of the region – chronicling what lived in the ocean and over what time periods.

Technically referred to as sits downDNA – for ancient sedimentary DNA – the samples recovered will likely prove useful in ongoing efforts to understand how climate change could affect Antarctica in the future.

‚ÄúThis is by far the oldest authenticated Navy sits downYou give this DNA” says marine ecologist Linda Armbrecht from the University of Tasmania in Australia.

sedaDNA is found in many environments, including terrestrial caves and Subarctic permafrostwho gave in sits downDNA dating back 400,000 and 650,000 years respectively.

Cold temperatures, low oxygen and a lack of UV radiation make polar marine environments like the Scotia Sea great places for sits downThe DNA is meant to remain intact, just waiting for us to find it.

The recovered DNA was extracted from the seabed in 2019 and underwent an extensive contamination control process to ensure that the age markers embedded in the material were correct.

Among other things, the team discovered diatoms (single-cell organisms) that arose 540,000 years ago. All of this helps to provide our overview of how this part of the world has evolved over time.

The team was able to link diatom abundance to warmer periods – the last of which in the Scotia Sea was around 14,500 years ago. This resulted in an increase in overall marine life activity throughout the Antarctic region.

“This is an interesting and important change associated with global and rapid sea level rise and massive ice loss in Antarctica due to natural warming.” says geologist Michael Weber from the University of Bonn in Germany.

This latest study is proof that this sits downDNA techniques can help reconstruct ecosystems spanning hundreds of thousands of years, giving us a whole new perspective on how the oceans are changing.

Scientists are constantly improving at removing these ancient fragments of DNA from the ground and removing the “noise” and interference left by all of the modern DNA that has since existed in order to get an authentic look at the past.

A better understanding of past climate changes and the response of ocean ecosystems means more accurate models and predictions of what might happen next around the South Pole.

“Antarctica is one of the most affected regions on Earth by climate change, and studying the past and present responses of this polar marine ecosystem to environmental change is an urgent matter,” the researchers write in their published paper.

The research was published in nature communication.

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