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Genetic Linkage

A 2-Million-Year-Old Ecosystem in the Throes of Climate Change Revealed in Environmental DNA

The reconstruction of a once-living landscape in northern Greenland from 2 million years ago, deduced from bits of DNA bound to minerals, reveals an Ice Age ecosystem in the throes of climate change that may suggest ways to mitigate rising global temperatures today. The collection, analysis, and interpretation of environmental DNA from this distant time and place provides a "genetic roadmap" for how organisms can adapt to a warming climate. The work is the cover story in Nature this week. Six of the 40-member multinational team discussed the findings at a news conference.




Environmental DNA – eDNA – is used to describe habitats both ancient and contemporary. Until now, the oldest eDNA was from a mammoth that lived in Siberia one million years ago.


To continue reading, go to DNA Science, where this post first appeared. Image credit Beth Zaiken.

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DNA in Strange Places: Hippo Poop, Zoo Air, and Cave Dirt

Many years ago, a dear friend took me to the Detroit zoo to see the Hippoquarium. Much to my delight, the resident hippo positioned her rear to the glass of the enclosure and let loose, her whirring tail distributing the intestinal contents like blowing on an open milkweed pod.


A few years later I saw the same demonstration at the Tampa zoo, a hippo's whirligig-of-a-tail in action.


Hippo Microbiomes


Recently, researchers from the US and Kenya described in Scientific Reports their investigation of the ejection of hippo feces into the pools of the Serengeti's Mara River. A more natural environs than a zoo, the river is home to more than 4,000 hippos wallowing in some 170 hippo pools in the Kenyan part of the territory.


To continue reading go to my blog DNA Science at Public Library of Science.

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