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Free Content Ancient DNA techniques: applications for deep-water corals

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The potential applications of ancient DNA (aDNA) techniques have been realized relatively recently, and have been revolutionized by the advent of pCR techniques in the mid 1980s. Although these techniques have been proven valuable in ancient specimens of up to 100,000 yrs old, their use in the marine realm has been largely limited to mammals and fish. Using modifications of techniques developed for skeletons of whales and mammals, we have produced a method for extracting and amplifying aDNA from sub-fossil (not embedded in rock) deep-water corals that has been successful in yielding 351 base pairs of the ITS2 region in sub-fossil Desmophyllum dianthus (Esper, 1794) and Lophelia pertusa (Linnaeus, 1758). The comparison of DNA sequences from fossil and live specimens resulted in clustering by species, demonstrating the validity of this new aDNA method. Sub-fossil scler-actinian corals are readily dated using U-series techniques, and so the abundance of directly-dateable skeletons in the world's oceans, provides an extremely useful archive for investigating the interactions of environmental pressures (in particular ocean circulation, climate change) on the past distribution, and the evolution of deep-water corals across the globe.

Document Type: Abstract

Publication date: November 1, 2007

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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