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 scleractinian 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.
|Number of pages||9|
|Journal||Bulletin of Marine Science|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Nov 2007|