Raul Cano and Monica Borucki, of the Ambergene Corp., have been awarded a patent on the means of obtaining ancient organisms from amber and copal. They envision extracting, reviving, and culturing microorganisms from resin. The uses for ancient organisms and their byproducts include applications in agriculture, industrial processes, bioremediation, diagnostics, and treatment of disease. A growing resistance to the traditional antimicrobial compounds drives this research.
To counter skepticism from scientists regarding contamination of samples by contemporary substances, Cano and Borucki proved the antiquity of the amber-derived organisms [Dominican bees] by comparing them to modern Bacillus sphaericus isolated from the abdominal cavity of the modern descendant via taxonomic, biochemical, and genetic analysis. "Portions of the 16s rDNA of both the ancient and modern day bacterial isolates were amplified using PCR and sequenced. The sequences of the modern and ancient Bacillus were compared and found to have approximately 93-95% homology. Using the 'molecular clock' analysis...the nucleotide substitution rates of several of the ancient isolates were calculated. ...The ancient organisms were determined to be approximately 50 million years old, which is consistent with the approximated age of the Dominican amber ...from which they were isolated." (Reese, 1997, p. 64).
Reese, K. M. (April 14, 1997). Patent awarded for old organisms, like very old. C&EN.
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