The analyzed fragments of organic material, which were extracted in 2019, are more than a million years old.
A group of scientists from the University of Tasmania (Australia) has discovered in the Scotia Sea, located in Antarctica, the oldest marine sedimentary DNA known to date, according to an article recently published in Nature Communications.
In 2019, marine ecologists extracted fragments of organic material from the ocean floor and underwent a comprehensive contamination control process to ensure the embedded age markers were accurate.
Thus, they discovered that this sedimentary DNA sample is more than a million years old. In addition, they found unicellular organisms known as diatoms that date back to about 540,000 years ago.
The study evidence that analysis techniques for this type of DNA can be useful for reconstructing ecosystems over time. over hundreds of thousands of years, which offers a new level of understanding of how the oceans have changed and, in turn, allows a better understanding of what could happen at the South Pole.
“Antarctica is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change on Earth, and studying the past and present responses of this polar marine ecosystem to environmental change is a matter of urgency”, explained the authors of the research.