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THE PALEOME: LETTERS FROM ANCIENT EARTH

Conference paper
Part of the Nato Science Series: IV: Earth and Environmental Sciences book series (NAIV, volume 64)

Abstract

Recent advances in molecular ecological techniques have led to the revelation that sedimentary environments contain molecular signals in the form of DNA sequences: signals that tend to be consistent with the in situ geochemical environment. However, as one moves to more ancient environments, the correlation of molecular signals with the in situ environment becomes more difficult. We have called the pool of molecular information that can be obtained from such ancient environments the ‘Paleome’. This concept is controversial, in part because it demands that the molecular sequences be stable for long periods of time, and in part because the interpretation of such sequences in a geochemical context is often difficult, even for contemporary samples. We review results from a variety of environments, discussing the potential explanations for each, and focusing on the relationship of the molecular signals to the biological history of the sample. In almost every case, while molecular signals were abundant, viable cells were not cultivated. We posit here that the paleome is the genetic record of the biological past, a record that has been preserved on geologic timescales: a record that may well provide us with insights into both the paleoenvironment and the co-evolution of Earth and its biota.

Keywords

Black Shale Most Probable Number Ocean Drill Program Methane Hydrate Japan Trench 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Subground Animalcule Retrieval (SUGAR) Project, Extremobiosphere Research CenterJapan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC)YokosukaJapan
  2. 2.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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