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Earth Science

DNA Analysis Hints At a Fourth Domain of Life 124

ecesar writes "The Economist is reporting on a recent paper published in the Public Library of Science, which suggests there might be at least one other, previously hidden, domain of life (besides eukaryotes, bacteria and archaea). Using DNA sequence data generated directly from environmental samples, the authors found sequences not yet seen in any cultured organism."
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DNA Analysis Hints At a Fourth Domain of Life

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  • Re:Dnamaged ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Altrag ( 195300 ) on Friday March 25, 2011 @02:41AM (#35608558)

    Absolutely. However, there's a few caveats:

    - Each "damage" will only affect one specimen for any given damage pattern. The chance that two individuals of species get genetically damaged in exactly the same way is pretty slim.

    - If the "damage" is detrimental to the species, the genetic change isn't likely to last long on evolutionary time scales.

    - Each "damage" will only affect a small number of genes -- likely only one or two. Geneticists create families of species by comparing the various genetic similarities. So if you have two very simple viruses that have 9 of their 10 genes in common, there's a good chance that they're fairly closely related.

    - And even that one gene is probably only slightly modified (a C replaced with a T in the DNA or something along those lines), so there's an even deeper comparative level for genetic matching.

    The probability of a catastrophic genetic change to the extent that we couldn't recognize its origin still producing a viable creature is so unbelievably small as to be ignored -- at best, it would get lost in the midst of basic human error.

    Of course its theoretically possible. In the same sense that its theoretically possible for all of the atoms in your body to simultaneously quantum tunnel in exactly the right way such that you pass through the nearest wall in-tact.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 25, 2011 @03:38AM (#35608742)

    I too am underwhelmed, and irritated to have read the article. At first it sounded good, but this is clearly just some washed up douche looking for grant money claiming a new form of life without comparing sequences to any known virii (except the ones that actually matched it, which he dismisses), has made past mistakes in this exact line of research both business-wise and in the more recent time (which he cited, i don't know why) thinking this mystery new life he's searching for was something he later found to be bacteria, and trying really hard to not lie, thus avoiding later legal recourse for misappropriated grant money.

All laws are simulations of reality. -- John C. Lilly