ESTEEM Center for Equity in Science, Technology, Engineering, English & Math



Reviving 100,000 Year Old Bacteria

Using 100,000 year old Neanderthal dental calculus, scientists were able to revive ancient bacteria.
Source: CDC
Working with bacteria in the lab

Genes are necessary for all living material and they work as the code/instructions that tell the living material which proteins they should make. Antibiotics are made by complex compounds produced by bacteria and we have only used currently living material to make these antibiotics but with the revival of old bacteria we can unlock a new world of antibiotics.

Constructing Genes & Genomes Like A Puzzlea chain link fence

When organisms die, its DNA splits into “pieces” that need to be organized to create the genomes responsible for generating the natural compounds. The older the organism, the harder it is to put everything back together as the material is more decomposed. The process is very long and time consuming but it does work well and can reconstruct genomes all the way from the ice age. After three years of testing, Pierre Stallforth’s team were able to reconstruct DNA more that 100,000 base pairs long.

Tooth Tartar???

Tooth tartar is the only part of the body that fossilizes when the person is alive which can preserve bacterial material and using tooth tartar from neanderthals and other humans, researchers were able to reconstruct many species from the oral bacteria. Using synthetic molecular biotechnology, the researchers were able to get the bacteria to reconstruct genomes and form “paleofurans” which are natural microbial products.

Examples of Natural Microbial Products: Enzymes, Vitamins, Herbicides, Insecticides

How can the bacteria be used?

These discoveries are amazing and can unlock a whole new world for the studies of bacteria, the past, and microbial products. The discoveries have been used yet but they are hoped to be used in antibiotics.



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Resurrecting 100,000 years old Bacteria: A Promising Source of New Antibiotics

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