ANALYSIS OF ANCIENT DNA FROM FOSSIL CORALLINES (CORALLINALES, RHODOPHYTA) Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The field of molecular paleontology has recently made significant contributions to anthropology and biology. Hundreds of ancient DNA studies have been published, but none has targeted fossil coralline algae. Using regions of the SSU gene, we analyzed rDNA from fossil coralline algae of varying ages and states of preservation from Spain, Papua New Guinea (PNG), and the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Specimens from PNG, GBR, and some localities from Spain did not contain endogenous ancient DNA. Reproducible sequence data were obtained from specimens ∼550 years old from near Cadiz, Spain, and from rocky-shore deposits in Carboneras, Almeria Province of Spain (∼78,000 years before present [YBP]). Based on BLAST searches and a phylogenetic analysis of sequences, an undescribed coralline alga belonging to the Melobesioideae was discovered in the Carboneras material as well as the following coralline genera: Jania, Lithophyllum, Lithothamnion, Mesophyllum, and Phymatolithon. DNA from fleshy brown and red macroalgae was also discovered in the specimens from Carboneras. The coralline algae identified using molecular techniques were in agreement with those based on morphological methods. The identified taxa are common in the present-day southeastern Spain littoral zone. Amino acid racemization, concentration ratios, and specific concentrations failed to show a correlation between biomolecular preservation and PCR amplification success. Results suggest that molecular investigations on fossil algae, although limited by technical difficulties, are feasible. Validity of our results was established using authentication criteria and a self-critical approach to compliance.

publication date

  • April 2008