An interesting article from the Falkowski lab at Rutgers university has just been released in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . The authors extracted bacteria and DNA from ice between 3-5 metres beneath the surface of an Antarctic glacier, and ‘resuscitated’ a strain of bacteria 8 million years in age. Previously, the oldest record of DNA extracted from glacial ice was 800,000 years old, from the southern Greenland icesheet.The following comment from Falkoswki in a New Scientist article in particular caught my eye:

 

"Paul Falkowski of Rutgers University, who led the study, describes the ancient bacteria as small round cells that had been in a "suspended state of animation for 8 million years". He says the increasingly rapid flow of glaciers into the ocean as a result of global warming could release new organisms into the sea but he does not believe this is cause for concern because marine bacteria and viruses are typically far less harmful to human health than, for instance, those found on land."

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