Prehistoric DNA below the Artic could help crops cope with climate change: Sky News

By Andrew Blackman - May 6, 2024
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Brown wheat field, U.K. (Nik, Unsplash Team)

Plant biologists in Edinburgh are working with other European scientists to find out whether microbes from hundreds of thousands of years ago could help current-day plants adapt to climate change, Sky News reports.

  • A team from Heriot-Watt University is examining ancient soil samples extracted from deep below the Arctic in a project known as Tolerate. The scientists won a a £500,000 grant for the four-year project.
  • Tolerate scientists at Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany have already dissected the DNA of some of the prehistoric bacteria from samples dating from the Palaeolithic period around 100,000 to 200,000 years ago,
  • “Having access to these ancient samples is an incredible bonus,” Professor Stephen Euston, an expert in food chemistry at Heriot-Watt, told Sky News. “There could be a huge wealth of biological resources that we could tap into to improve our current and future environment in Scotland and around the world.”

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