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Ancient Yeast Used To Brew Modern Beer

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the turned-out-to-be-useful dept.

Earth 106

Kozar_The_Malignant writes "Yeast trapped inside a 45 million year old weevil, trapped inside amber has been extracted, activated, and used to brew beer. According to the report, the beer has 'a weird spiciness at the finish.' The brewer, Raul Cano, a scientist at the California Polytechnic State University, attributes this to the yeast's unusual metabolism. 'The ancient yeast is restricted to a narrow band of carbohydrates, unlike more modern yeasts, which can consume just about any kind of sugar,' said Cano. Cano brews barrels of Pale Ale and German Wheat Beer under the Fossil Fuels Brewing Co. label."

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woohoo (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25139715)

yoohoo

I'm proud of slashdotters (3, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25139717)

I'm proud that slashdotters have avoided the obvious Bea Arthur joke.

Re:I'm proud of slashdotters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25139907)

I'm proud that slashdotters have avoided the obvious Bea Arthur joke.

The article says ancient, not prehistoric.

Re:I'm proud of slashdotters (1)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 5 years ago | (#25139939)

45 Million years ago wasn't prehistoric?

Re:I'm proud of slashdotters (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 5 years ago | (#25141615)

Why are you guys being so mean to Bea Arthur? She's not a day over 40 Million.

Re:I'm proud of slashdotters (1)

sreid (650203) | more than 5 years ago | (#25144263)

i think they are referring to the yeast

Re:I'm proud of slashdotters (2, Interesting)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 5 years ago | (#25141425)

I'm proud that slashdotters have avoided the obvious Bea Arthur joke.

It is election season, yet no McCain jokes thus far. He even got his start in politics with his wive's beer money.

Re:I'm proud of slashdotters (1)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 5 years ago | (#25144063)

I guess that's fair, though it also seems fair to say that McCain's "start in politics" was earlier--with his first job in the senate in '77.

Re:I'm proud of slashdotters (1)

gacl (1078259) | more than 5 years ago | (#25146981)

--with his first job in the senate in '77.

1777?

He! . .

Coincidence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25139759)

I go to school there. I might try to go and get a taste of that 45 million year beer.

Ressurrecting a 45-million-year-old life form (4, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#25139837)

Even more interesting is we now have successfully ressurrected a life form that was presumably dormant for 45 million years.

If we can do this with other multimillion-year-old spores, seeds, and other "deep freeze"-states of living creatures, we might be able to bring back some of Jurassic Park without resorting to cloning.

Re:Ressurrecting a 45-million-year-old life form (3, Insightful)

Pearson (953531) | more than 5 years ago | (#25139967)

Considering how disruptive it can be to introduce species from other geographic regions, I can't imagine that bringing back specimens from millenia ago is going to be very prudent.

Re:Ressurrecting a 45-million-year-old life form (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25140761)

Considering how disruptive it can be to introduce species from other geographic regions, I can't imagine that bringing back specimens from millenia ago is going to be very prudent.

Interesting...that's exactly what Dr. Ian Malcolm keeps saying!

Re:Ressurrecting a 45-million-year-old life form (4, Funny)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#25140893)

Who cares what he says.

Never trust people who come back from the dead, that's what I always say... From snarky scientists to pacifistic carpenters, zombies will lead you wrong every time!

Re:Ressurrecting a 45-million-year-old life form (2, Funny)

penginkun (585807) | more than 5 years ago | (#25140909)

I can't imagine that bringing back specimens from millenia ago is going to be very prudent.

Well, at least not at this juncture.

Re:Ressurrecting a 45-million-year-old life form (2, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#25141999)

Considering how disruptive it can be to introduce species from other geographic regions, I can't imagine that bringing back specimens from millenia ago is going to be very prudent.

I'm not too worried.

The rest of the biosphere has had megayears of the Red Queen's Race to get better at offense and defense - especially with chemical warfare and intelligence. A resurrected fossil - even with resurrections of its ecological support network to help out - is still likely to be at a severe disadvantage. The problem IMHO is more likely to be able to keep it alive than to keep it from getting out of hand.

As a brewer... (3, Interesting)

omfgnosis (963606) | more than 5 years ago | (#25147355)

Unwanted yeasts and bacteria can get easily out of hand. And being that this particular yeast strain might thrive in environments different from those of modern yeasts, it could very well grow more populous in the intervening period between brews. And if it's that disruptive to brewing, who's to say how it would impact the rest of life around it. Now apply that to 'other multimillion-year-old spores, seeds, and other "deep freeze"-states of living creatures'.

Evolution doesn't reward "better" anything except "better suited to particular circumstances." That could be wildly unpredictable for species that fell by the wayside, as it's not always predictable how they fell by the wayside in the first place.

Any species with a dependence on another will die off when that other species does, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be better suited to species that have thrived since that time.

Re:Ressurrecting a 45-million-year-old life form (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25147637)

A resurrected fossil - even with resurrections of its ecological support network to help out - is still likely to be at a severe disadvantage.

Thank you for your concern, while it is entirely unwarranted, we appreciate it just the same.

As a gesture of thanks we have made appeal to the Dead Q'thulu that your consumption be expedited over the lesser beings should it please the Great Q'thulu to do so.

Q'thulu fhtagn.

Re:Ressurrecting a 45-million-year-old life form (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25151177)

The rest of the biosphere has had megayears of the Red Queen's Race to get better at offense and defense - especially with chemical warfare and intelligence.

Evolutionary progress isn't exactly linear. Maintaining a defense against a no-longer-existent threat is not really advantageous. Megayears of evolution might have eliminated current species' defenses against this yeast while developing defenses against things which are still present. That's what evolution is! It's about adapting to the environment, not about picking up offenses or defenses or powerups or whatever.

Consider for example how scientists are worried that nobody is immune to smallpox anymore. Sure it "doesn't exist" anymore, except for a few lab samples, but if someone stole one of those to use it as a weapon...

Anyway, if this yeast is toxic, it may be toxic in a manner which nothing alive now can defend against. Or it may be harmless, or it might just cause a mild rash, or it might be fatal to the flying squirrel and nothing else, who knows? There is no reason, however, to believe that "evolution" makes us safe.

Re:Ressurrecting a 45-million-year-old life form (3, Funny)

ByteSlicer (735276) | more than 5 years ago | (#25142755)

Nah, what could possibly go wrong? I for one, want my pet raptor...

Re:Ressurrecting a 45-million-year-old life form (1)

RichiH (749257) | more than 5 years ago | (#25143645)

Assuming you mean millennia.. That would be approximately 45,000 of them.

wishful thinking? (4, Informative)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 5 years ago | (#25140161)

If we can do this with other multimillion-year-old spores, seeds, and other "deep freeze"-states of living creatures, we might be able to bring back some of Jurassic Park without resorting to cloning.

I suspect we'd be limited primarily to species that have a spore state. Bringing back old yeast is nowhere near as difficult as bringing back old vertebrates - yeast form spores to be able to sit out starvation indefinitely - I don't know many vertebrates that can do the same.

Without a spore stage, the degradation of DNA and cellular machinery could be severe, and even bringing back a vertebrate encased in amber could be excruciatingly difficult (if possible at all).

Re:wishful thinking? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25140527)

You know what else has a spore state! Shrooms man!
Shrooms must have been huge 45 million years ago! ..and I bet there was mycelial networks the size of Russia.

Re:wishful thinking? (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 5 years ago | (#25140735)

You know what else has a spore state! Shrooms man!
Shrooms must have been huge 45 million years ago! ..and I bet there was mycelial networks the size of Russia.

What are you trying to say? Were you shrooming when you were writing that?

Re:wishful thinking? (3, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#25140815)

At present, the record for retrieving completely intact yDNA is 3,000 years, and the record for completely intace mitochondrial DNA (from inside the hair of a Mammoth) is 10,000 years, although older fragments have been recovered. Jurassic Park is therefore unlikely, but Neolithic Park would appear well within reach. (That might raise some interesting ethical questions. How human does one have to be to be considered as qualifying for human rights?)

The only way to not have to clone an extinct creature would be if you could recover an intact, viable stem cell. In principle, this is no different from recovering any other single-celled organism, and we've recovered those just fine. Most animals - humans included - have many sources of stem cells, the skin included, which could be exploited to make something that acted like an embryonic stem cell. It's not easy - as I understand the subject, it's never been accomplished, merely proven theoretically possible. Gotta start somewhere, though.

The idea that a few skin cells might be trapped in amber is an interesting one. A strand of hair (for obtaining the DNA and using regular cloning) also seems a possibility, assuming there was much in the way of hair at the different times amber has been formed. (Baltic amber is considered the most interesting, but there are many others. Recently did some research on amber, owing to a Bronze Age find in England of an amber necklace and pendant in a region that couldn't possibly have been rich enough on its own merits to have bought such stuff.)

Personally, though, Jurassic Park ideas seem like a fun-for-a-moment sort of thing, soon to be forgotten. A one trick show where the trick looked better in the movies. I'd be much more interested in chemists and biologists figuring out what differences there must have been in the DNA of the trees that produced Baltic Amber and modern pines. You don't need to recreate the ancient trees, you only need to create a tree that produces sap with the same chemistry. Then put the sap under pressure, and produce (nearly) instant ancient amber. Ideally, you'd destroy the market for the really ancient stuff, so biologists and microbiologists can more easily obtain the stuff to look for interesting bugs, leaves and beer yeasts.

Re:wishful thinking? (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25141151)

The only way to not have to clone an extinct creature would be if you could recover an intact, viable stem cell. In principle, this is no different from recovering any other single-celled organism, and we've recovered those just fine. Most animals - humans included - have many sources of stem cells, the skin included, which could be exploited to make something that acted like an embryonic stem cell.

Creating tissue/bone/organ: Adult stem cell.

Creating whole organism: Embryonic stem cell.

These are not interchangeable. Embryonic stem cells have to develop into a completed organism embryo to provide useful adult stem cells; and adult stem cells... I don't know if regressing certain marrow stem cells to a totipotent stem cell is feasible, but I'd believe it. As-is, it's definitely not going to just grow a new organism.

Re:wishful thinking? (3, Informative)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#25143293)

There is recent research which shows that you can de-specialize an adult stem cell and cause it to act as if it were an embryonic stem cell, but as things stand this is only theoretical, as far as I know. Nobody has perfected the conversion, certainly. If they had, genetic research could bypass the puritain nonsense entirely. I don't know what the current state-of-play is, in that, whether they've actually got an adult stem cell to produce something it couldn't normally produce, for example. I also see it as having limited interest until we know better more about what stem cells can be used for, medically. However, in the case of an extinct species, adult stem cells might be the best chance of revival, IF (and only if) conversion to embyonic stem cell state moves past the pure theory into the realm of the practical.

Standard nucleic DNA cloning has a very high failure rate and a very high juvenile death rate. I'm guessing that this is either nucleic DNA damage and/or a mismatch of some kind with the rest of the cell, including the mtDNA. The failure rate for species revival is likely to be considerably higher. Whatever is causing the failures is likely to be many times worse when you're dumping nucleic DNA into a far distant million-times-removed relative rather than something virtually identical from a genetic standpoint.

Ergo, if you want to revive an extinct species, your best bet depends utterly on research producing a reliable mechanism for generalizing adult stem cells, then obtaining such cells for an extinct organism. Dolly the sheep suffered from very rapid decay and wastage, using conventional cloning techniques. Embedding mammoth DNA into an elephant cell is a near-certain failure. But if appropriate stimulation forced a mammoth adult stem cell to become a mammoth embryonic stem cell, your odds of success should be much higher.

However, this isn't next week's technology we're talking about. The furthest I've heard of such work is, like I said, theoretical based on some observations. I don't expect to see sufficient progress to the point of actually seeing a clone produced by such a technique (ie: without a cellular host) for 30-50 years, based on my rule-of-thumb of 10 years per stage of development, adjusted for the current wave of conservatism, assuming such a clone is possible. If the method cannot be used in practice, I would not expect enough migration from theory to practice to take place to establish that beyond all doubt for 10-20 years. Allowing 10 years for another alternative path to be found, you'd then be looking at 50-80 years for cloning without the need of a host cell.

So, provided adult stem cells can be reverted, I can expect to live long enough to see a thoroughbred cloned Mammoth or something of that order of complexity - and still be cognicent enough to appreciate it, and might live long enough to see advanced regenerative medicine. If adult stem cells prove completely unusable and no other cell can be readily reverted, I would need to be extremely lucky to see anything much in the way of major results and certainly won't live long enough to see any medical benefits. So, naturally, I'm rather more eager to see cell reversion efforts achieve good results. Adult stem cells, being some of the least specialized of all cells in the body, should be the easiest to revert. Neurons - the sort of cell formed by default if no other stimulus is present - would logically be the next easiest, as it's very easy to subtract nothing, once nothing has been added.

(Those listing me as a foe on Slashdot would probably argue that, my case, nothing is exactly what my neurons consist of and that subtracting nothing would be amputating my brain. My teachers, back when I was at school, certainly would have argued that.)

Re:wishful thinking? (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25145171)

You do realize that cloning is simply conversion of a given cell to a stem cell by injecting its DNA into an embryonic stem cell right? We hijack the machine and load our own code into it. If the DNA is 54 million years old and chunks of it have decayed, it's still not going to work if you try to execute it in place rather than injecting it into a new host cell.

Re:wishful thinking? (2, Informative)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#25146125)

We transfer only the nucleic DNA. Thus, if there are important interactions between the nucleic DNA and the mitochondrial DNA, we cannot produce those using the injection technique. We require a fully-intact stem cell. Secondly, such a transfer is itself risky - the more operations you perform on something delicate like that, the greater the probability of damaging it. Thus, if you can leave it in-situ, you greatly increase your odds of success.

With one major proviso.

If you want the DNA to operate in-situ, you HAVE to be able to convert the cell into an embryonic stem cell. Otherwise, you have nothing useful. If you can't move the DNA to a stem cell, then you obviously need to move the stem cell's characteristics to the DNA. This works, but only in theory. In practice, nobody knows how to despecialize cells in that way. It's possible - some tumours are variants on the theme - but the exact method of deprogramming is as yet beyond the experts in the field.

There is the other condition - the DNA has to start off by being intact - but that is true no matter what cloning method you use. Well, almost. We know how to chop DNA up, and we know how to sew fragments of DNA together. Although we can't do the latter process beyond a very small DNA fragment size, yet, it would in principle be possible to use this technique to take DNA over a wide range of samples and use intact fragments from one piece to fill in gaps from another. You merely need enough fragments for the statistics to work out that all gaps are filled. In the case of mammoths, where you have many animals and many cells in each and where preservation conditions are almost perfect, there is a very slim chance this may be possible. It's certainly better than zero. But again, the techniques for such mix-and-match lie well beyond what can currently be done in the laboratory. We just don't have the means to sew DNA fragments of that kind of size together at the present time. My estimate for how long it'll take is an estimate of the number of things that would need to be invented and how close we are to inventing each, assuming the standard rule of thumb that it takes about 10 years to get from a theory to a prototype, and another 10 to go from prototype to something viable, and assuming that some of those developments HAVE to be performed sequentially, not in parallel.

Since my estimate is in the region of 80 or so years, you can see I think there are many sequential operations that have to be performed before we have anything useful for cloning highly sophisticated species.

Re:wishful thinking? (4, Interesting)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25145333)

So, provided adult stem cells can be reverted, I can expect to live long enough to see a thoroughbred cloned Mammoth or something of that order of complexity - and still be cognicent enough to appreciate it, and might live long enough to see advanced regenerative medicine. If adult stem cells prove completely unusable and no other cell can be readily reverted, I would need to be extremely lucky to see anything much in the way of major results and certainly won't live long enough to see any medical benefits.

Point to be made here: Adult stem cells are being used for regenerative treatments because doing so with embryonic stem cells is known to be a colossal waste of time. It's one of those things where we know it's doable, but it's extremely hard and unreliable, and we insist on doing it for political reasons mixed with "because we can!"

Here's a list of things I've seen done with Adult Stem Cells:

  • Repair scarred heart tissue after a heart attack, by injection of bone marrow stem cells into the heart (they can differentiate into muscle) and stopping the heart for a couple minutes to allow a graft. Also seen this done in other ways, with blood and skeletal muscle stem cells.
  • Repair of damaged spinal tissue by adult stem cells harvested from umbilical cord blood at birth (cures paralysis)
  • Repair of a damaged cornea (even acid damaged) by pulling stem cells from another part of the eye and grafting them into the damaged cornea.
  • Temporary treatment of diabetes, something like 80% success in a study involving over 100 diabetics, where 'success' was defined pretty much as the patients being able to go a year without needing insulin to handle spikes in blood sugar. Some tests with mice have shown the ability to completely reverse diabetes with spleen stem cells.
  • Someone fully regenerated a heart after killing off all the muscle tissue, leaving just structural support tissue. Not sure the details on this one. I've seen a lot of muscle regeneration work done by "scaffolding" with a synthetic support tissue.
  • Osirus has a treatment for damaged joint cartilage.
  • Osiris also has a full, selected tooth regeneration technique working in lab, where they can generate a tooth bud and set it in a mouth and it will sprout into a tooth, take root, send out hormones to have blood vessels run to it, etc.

There's a lot out there that basically involves pulling stem cells from your body in one place and injecting them somewhere else. Embryonic treatments of course involve a lot of chemical environment manipulation to make something that wants to become a whole person become a simple tissue; and the DNA is different, so you'd need immune system suppression drugs to prevent rejection (read: chemical-induced AIDS). I think I've heard of adult stem cells regenerating bits of skin with hair and muscle attached, for skin grafts, in a dish, i.e. a fully constructed tissue (like an arm or hand, but not quite there yet). A tooth is an example of this (complex organ) but it's not a great example.

Re:wishful thinking? (1)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#25146031)

The idea of being able to convert adult stem cells into embryonic stem cells would be that you'd have all the benefits you've listed for adult stem cells (as that's what you start off with) but increased flexibility (as the embryonic form would be able to be used to generate tissue adult stem cells can't), and you'd not have the rejection issue as it's from the same person, so the DNA is all the same. This is why the conversion process is so important. Essentially adult stem cells are embryonic stem cells with certain functions switched on or off, so that you don't have the complete flexibility. Now, it is obvious that you can revert adult stem cells, because it does happen in nature. It's extremely rare, but medically well-documented, for example, for a doctor to surgically remove a cyst and find teeth or bone within it. That is only possible if the adult stem cells within skin have changed state to something closer to an embryonic stem cell, and therefore become capable of generating really freakish stuff.

Research into embryonic stem cells is thus important to know what the increased flexibility actually means in practice, and research into adult stem cells (for the purpose of converting them into embryonic stem cells) is important to actually produce a cure worth having. The adult stem cells alone are useful, as you have pointed out, but if you can increase that usefulness by switching stem cell mode, then you have something truly valuable.

Re:wishful thinking? (1)

CrimsonScythe (876496) | more than 5 years ago | (#25141465)

Also, despite an awesome name, I seriously doubt "Dino Beer" would taste very good...

Re:wishful thinking? (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 5 years ago | (#25144997)

Rejected marketing department ideas:

"Drink Dino Beer: made from yeast from a dead weevil's anus - but with a unique spicy finish!"

"Dino Beer: for when beer made from modern yeast, genetically-modified wheat, and bicylic polyphenols just isn't good enough!"

"Dino Beer, because Coors, you're 45 million years too late!"

and "Dino Beer has the electrolytes plants crave! Now at Costco!"

Re:wishful thinking? (1)

scottrocket (1065416) | more than 5 years ago | (#25147247)

Or: "Drink from the Yeasty Beasties! Drink Beer Weevil!"

Re:wishful thinking? (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#25141911)

Without a spore stage, the degradation of DNA and cellular machinery could be severe, and even bringing back a vertebrate encased in amber could be excruciatingly difficult (if possible at all).

But multicelled animals provide multiple copies of their DNA. Multiple samples can be sequenced and error-correction computations performed to arrive at an error-free transcription.

Once you have that you can use the same techniques that are currently being developed for cloning a copy of a modern organism from a sample of differentiated tissue.

genomics 2.0 was:Re:wishful thinking? (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 5 years ago | (#25145943)

But multicelled animals provide multiple copies of their DNA. Multiple samples can be sequenced and error-correction computations performed to arrive at an error-free transcription.

Now I for one certainly wouldn't oppose doing a (insert extinct animal species here) genome project for as many extinct animals as possible. However, as someone with genomics experience, I can say it is a very long and involved process just to sequence a genome.

And then on top of that, your proposal would then involve progressing on to building new chromosomes from the sequenced data - because just rebuilding broken chromosomes could introduce potentially crippling error rates.

So unfortunately, I don't think we're there yet. Once our techniques progress for synthetic chromosomes, then we may be able to use them as scaffolding for bringing back extinct organisms.

Re:wishful thinking? (1)

JohnnyLocust (855742) | more than 5 years ago | (#25144047)

yeast form spores to be able to sit out starvation indefinitely - I don't know many vertebrates that can do the same.

Calista Flockhart seems to pull it off just fine.

Re:wishful thinking? (2, Funny)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#25144199)

I suspect we'd be limited primarily to species that have a spore state.

It's not so much that it has a spore state, as much as it comes with SecuROM DRM.

Sorry, was that in poor taste? :P

Re:Ressurrecting a 45-million-year-old life form (1)

cmeans (81143) | more than 5 years ago | (#25140183)

Along with a whole new set of diseases and virii that we have no immunity for. How nice.

Re:Ressurrecting a 45-million-year-old life form (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25141307)

Million year old diseases are not going to be adapted to attack humans. Now they might kill the people to revived them but spreading though the population takes a delicate balance of a wide range of factors.

Re:Ressurrecting a 45-million-year-old life form (2, Informative)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#25142199)

Million year old diseases are not going to be adapted to attack humans.

Actually the risk is worse for diseases that have just "made the hop" from another species and haven't yet adapted to keep the infected organism living. There's selection pressure to keep the victim alive, or alive longer, so as to spread more effectively, and becoming a long-term parasite or symbiont is better yet.

But I'm not particularly concerned: Current organisms have had millions of years to improve their defenses against all the pathological processes to which they've been exposed in the intervening times. I would not expect any useful biological attack strategy to have been completely lost and not "reinvented" over that time. Resurrected diseases are almost certain to be wimpybug, not superbug.

Re:Ressurrecting a 45-million-year-old life form (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 5 years ago | (#25141601)

Sort of a tangent, but about 8% our genome is made up of viruses http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endogenous_retrovirus [wikipedia.org] . The ones produced by pregnancy must be over 200 million years old.

Re:Resurrecting a 45-million-year-old life form (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25140195)

> ...we might be able to bring back some of Jurassic Park without resorting to cloning.

Or at least Cretaceous Park, or possibly even Cenozoic Park.

Re:Ressurrecting a 45-million-year-old life form (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 5 years ago | (#25140277)

might be able to bring back some of Jurassic Park without resorting to cloning.

So they can drink your brain with a straw-like appendage??

Re:Ressurrecting a 45-million-year-old life form (1)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 5 years ago | (#25140491)

we might be able to bring back some of Jurassic Park without resorting to cloning.

I for one vote that before we bring anything else back, we must determine if it can be made into a delicious adult beverage. I say if I can't get totally hammered drunk on these creatures (or their waste as in this case), let them stay in the past.

Re:Ressurrecting a 45-million-year-old life form (3, Informative)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25141193)

The beer has a different taste because they can't digest as many sugars, thus can't make as much alcohol from the sugars present; also because the yeast emits other intricate alcoholic esters not output by today's yeast. In effect, the beer has more full body; you need to use more sugar to make more alcohol, but the body will be far fuller than another beer of equivalent ABV.

Re:Ressurrecting a 45-million-year-old life form (5, Interesting)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 5 years ago | (#25143021)

I have a friend who's a yeast biologist at a university. I thought this was totally cool (I'm a homebrewer), so I got all excited and emailed him about it. He'd seen the paper, and said he was skeptical about whether the thing they'd cultured was actually an ancient yeast. IIRC he said that there were two main modern lineages of yeast, and they split from a common ancestor a long time ago (more than 45 Mya). It's not clear that you can really tell whether a particular yeast is from 45 Mya or not. Just because they cultured it from a sample that was that old, that doesn't mean the yeast spores had really been dormant for all that time. It could be a modern yeast that happened to be living in the old sample. Yeast live all over the place. In Belgium, they traditionally brew certain types of beer just by leaving the stuff in an open vat next to a window, and whatever gets in, that's what ferments it. In the past, a lot of it was probably yeast living on the skins of fruit in nearby orchards. These days it may be living in the walls and equipment of the brewery. Given that the stuff is all over the place, it's not obvious how you'd know whether or not a particular sample was contaminated with modern yeast.

Oh please... (1)

The Mighty Buzzard (878441) | more than 5 years ago | (#25143905)

No way is a little thing like life more interesting that beer.

Finally! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25139847)

  Something that applies to "News for Nerds. Stuff that matters."!! :)

The cages (5, Funny)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 5 years ago | (#25139921)

Apparently they are having some difficulty with the beer, having broken out of its electric fences, it's been chasing around the lab technicians.
Hopefully they won't figure out how to open the doors.

Re:The cages (1)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#25140487)

I was more concerned with them extracting spice from worms, and whether the eyes of the researchers had changed any.

Re:The cages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25141347)

Oh Great! Wait til this gets loose in our women!

Yeast infections. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25143931)

Now when we go down on the ladies, they'll dispense beer. Isn't that how it works?

Stand back. I'm going to try Science! (1)

iamlucky13 (795185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25139935)

Finally! Science does something genuinely useful.

Actually, I'm kind of curious how they were able to revive the yeast. That feat alone makes the article interesting. The beer is just a good finish to a hard day's work at the lab.

The comment in the article about the yeast possibly evolving to metabolize a greater range of carbohydrates reminded me of the E-coli evolution experiment that recently garnered renewed attention [slashdot.org] when a major evolutionary change occured after about 30,000 generations.

Head (2, Funny)

arizwebfoot (1228544) | more than 5 years ago | (#25139991)

What kind of head do you get from yeast that old?

--
Oh Well, Bad Karma and all . . .

Re:Head (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25140069)

apparently the kind with 'a weird spiciness at the finish.'

Re:Head (1)

not already in use (972294) | more than 5 years ago | (#25140301)

I think my sexual innuendo detector just went off inadvertently.

Re:Head (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25140725)

"I think my sexual innuendo detector just went off inadvertently."

I think they make a pill for that now. Or a session with a hooker, only they call it "sexual surrogate therapy" and insurance pays for it.

Re:Head (4, Funny)

chill (34294) | more than 5 years ago | (#25140381)

It depends on how many you can convince her to drink.

MODS! (1)

2names (531755) | more than 5 years ago | (#25140639)

Give this poster some 1ups, please. Funny, AND on-topic. How efficient of you...

Link to the brewer (4, Informative)

DeltaStorm (118517) | more than 5 years ago | (#25140035)

http://www.fossilfuelsbrewingco.com/ [fossilfuelsbrewingco.com]

If you want to try it looks like you're going to have to go to California.

Transforms less sugars, eh? (2, Interesting)

Seakip18 (1106315) | more than 5 years ago | (#25140075)

Man, that's going to be one malty beer!

I'm wondering what this yeast's brewing profile is. Could it lager? What's it attenuation?

An interesting achievement and a even neater application of science!

Re:Transforms less sugars, eh? (2, Funny)

not already in use (972294) | more than 5 years ago | (#25140347)

I also wondered about the brewing profile. At what level does it attentricate? What about its level of galoration? Have you considered, perhaps, that yeast this old could cause a problem with the bipalipation process? Yeah, so what. I made it all up. I don't know shit about brewing beer.

Re:Transforms less sugars, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25141225)

Yeah, so what. I made it all up. I don't know shit about brewing beer.

For a minute there, I didn't think I knew anything about brewing, either!

Re:Transforms less sugars, eh? (2, Funny)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#25141619)

Early man had ADD. Assuming this applies to all ancient life, this yeast will not attentricate in the presence of shiny things and pretty colours. Bipalpation will not been a problem, as most elections produce a one-sided Government. Galoration will occur at a rate of one gallon a gallon. Gatoration can be expected to be snappy.

finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25140269)

Something worth reading.

Mmmm. Beer. (2, Funny)

Setherghd (942294) | more than 5 years ago | (#25140343)

I feel a great disturbance in the Keg. As if millions of ancient yeast suddenly produced vast amounts of alcohol, and were suddenly consumed. I fear something terrible has happened.

*burp*

Re:Mmmm. Beer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25141605)

You don't want to consume the yeast itself. It'll give you Jurrasic-level shits.

hmmm (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 5 years ago | (#25140503)

Any microbiologists want to let us know how yeast can survive that long? I mean, it was in amber so I assume it wasn't actually active all that time. But you'd think that after 45 million years no cell machinery would even exist, let alone function.

Re:hmmm (2, Informative)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#25140649)

You don't need to be a microbiologist to understand the spore state [wikipedia.org] .

Re:hmmm (3, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 5 years ago | (#25140767)

Nothing in that article explains how a spore can last 45 million years then become active.

Re:hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25141411)

... a spore is a reproductive structure that is adapted for dispersal and surviving for extended periods of time in unfavorable conditions.

Re:hmmm (1)

MuChild (656741) | more than 5 years ago | (#25141899)

Yeah, sure, but 45 MILLION years is more than "extended" periods of time. Even by seed/spore standards. That article doesn't at all explain HOW it survives, either.

It's like saying "a mountain bike is a bicycle that allows riders to travel over rough terrain" and it turns out the mountain bike in question can travel over land, sea, the vacuum of space, and the semi-liquid/semi-gasseous atmosphere of Jupiter.

Re:hmmm (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 5 years ago | (#25143207)

What's going to degrade it? The contents of the spore are almost totally isolated from the outside environment. They're just chemicals. The spore state shuts down all the normal chemical reactions. If they're stable, they sit there, inert, pretty much forever — just like the amber itself. Other living things decay because they're smashed open, because other chemicals leech in, because other bacteria come along and eat them, etc. If that doesn't happen to the spore, its contents are safe for a long, long time, unchanged.

Re:hmmm (1)

MuChild (656741) | more than 5 years ago | (#25143407)

I don't doubt you, but I am under the impression that molecules like DNA are not as stable as all that. Seed banks, for instance, periodically germinate and replenish their stock. Seeds can stay dormant for, perhaps, thousands of years, but I'm still impressed by 45 million. Any ambient energy would, I would think, contribute to the degradation of the DNA inside the spores. DNA in other organisms trapped in amber have certainly become useless to scientists.

Re:hmmm (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 5 years ago | (#25145275)

The thick outer coating helps a lot in keeping the spore contents isolated. Normal cells that are preserved in organisms don't have that, and they don't necessarily shut their metabolisms down ahead of time, so they're biochemically not "prepared" for preservation the way spores are. I'm not saying spores are immortal, but they're much more robust to environmental perturbations than just about anything else we know.

Not really disagreeing with you, 45 million years is still impressive, but perhaps it's not as terribly surprising as one might think.

Re:hmmm (2, Informative)

Taibhsear (1286214) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151969)

It's not a seed. It's an endospore. Seeds are multicellular, these are single cells that have been biochemically altered to survive extremely harsh conditions (immense radiation, intense heat, extremely low humidity, vacuum, etc). Seeds and other organisms do not have this mechanism, only microorganisms do (AFAIK). The cell forms protective layers around some special proteins and the DNA, which is stabilized with calcium and dipicolinic acid, and dehydrates immensely. Without water and access to the DNA (since it is sort of cemented into place by the calcium and dipicolinic acid) the reactions that would degrade the DNA (like UV or X-ray light) cannot occur.

From wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :
"Up to 15% of the dry weight of the endospore consists of calcium dipicolinate within the core, which is thought to stabilize the DNA. Dipicolinic acid could be responsible for the heat resistance of the spore, and calcium may aid in resistance to heat and oxidizing agents."

They did the same thing in 1995 (4, Informative)

Danny Rathjens (8471) | more than 5 years ago | (#25140709)

By "they", I mean the exact same guys. They first revived bacteria from a bee's stomach in 1993, and this article from 1995 mentions,

Cano and his colleagues claim to have built up a menagerie of 1500 ancient microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi and yeast, over the past three and a half years. A few weeks ago they toasted their success with beer brewed from dinosaur-age yeast, which they dubbed Jurassic Amber Ale (the first batch is described as "pretty bad", but there are hopes of better brews soon).

So apparently the news is that it doesn't taste as bad anymore for some strange reason? marketing? ;)
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg14619792.500-they-came-from-40-million-bc.html [newscientist.com]

Re:They did the same thing in 1995 (1)

shbazjinkens (776313) | more than 5 years ago | (#25141645)

So apparently the news is that it doesn't taste as bad anymore for some strange reason? marketing? ;)

They could have found it's sweet spot for temperature and pressure range too, along with the necessary ingredient combination. The taste has a lot more variables than just the yeast. Nevermind that this might be a completely different yeast.

Which CalPoly? (2, Funny)

Change (101897) | more than 5 years ago | (#25140851)

There are two California Polytechnic State Universities, one in San Luis Obispo and one in Pomona. Dr. Raul Cano [calpoly.edu] is at CalPoly SLO. I guess their new slogan can be "Learn by brewing"...

Re:Which CalPoly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25143241)

While there is that other Cal Poly in Pomona [csupomona.edu] , the "Learn By Doing" school is indeed the correct one. He's the Director of Cal Poly's Environmental Biotechnology Institute and Unocal Professor of Environmental Studies (more accolades here [calpoly.edu] ).

Oddly, his inspiration for brewing beer seems to be convincing his slightly inebriated father to provide money for a movie and a hamburger [washingtonpost.com] .

Re:Which CalPoly? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25144677)

When people say Cal Poly it usually refers to the one in SLO because that was the first one and it is more prestigious.

Let me be the first to say... (1)

Bovarchist (782773) | more than 5 years ago | (#25140999)

EPIC ALE!

Re:Let me be the first to say... (3, Interesting)

Skagit (910458) | more than 5 years ago | (#25141091)

I think you mean EPOCH ALE

Beeeeeeer (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25141061)

Beer [facebook.com] and mead [facebook.com] and cider [facebook.com] are so fun to make.

Biological Warfare (1)

Johnny Mnemonic (176043) | more than 5 years ago | (#25141555)

This is kinda disturbing. If an alien race wants to take us over, will they just put something in an alcoholic drink and claim that it will give us a high like never before? We wouldn't be able to resist. "Sure, it's melting my face off. But oh, what a clean finish!"

Kidding aside, how did this guy know that a 45 Million year old yeast wouldn't, you know, kill him? If it's that old it couldn't have been used (and therefore proven safe) by our ancestors--that way predates human evolution. Couldn't it have produced a lethal biotoxin? Afterall, alcohol itself is just a mild biotoxin--but it'll kill you too in enough quantity. Couldn't this have produced unusual strength, or unknown secondary biotoxins?

I guess that's what undergraduats are for. He probably "tested" this sample at a CPSU beer bash on freshmen fraternity students before releasing his finding.

Re:Biological Warfare (2, Funny)

Atrox666 (957601) | more than 5 years ago | (#25141821)

I think they used the biological testing technique of the "Double dog dare". ..besides undergrads will drink anything with alcohol in it and it's not like you'll ever run out.

What sugars, specifically? (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 5 years ago | (#25142219)

unlike more modern yeasts, which can consume just about any kind of sugar,

Um, I thought the whole point of adding lactose and dextrins was that yeast (modern or not) can't eat that stuff, so you get to keep some sugar in your fermented beer (for body). Isn't (even modern) yeast limited to eating the really simple sugars (glucose and maltose)?

Maybe this ancient yeast can't even handle maltose or something?

Re:What sugars, specifically? (1)

Eternauta3k (680157) | more than 5 years ago | (#25143543)

I don't know about yeasts used for brewing, but the kind used for making bread metabolize sucrose just fine.

Beer? Lightweights.... (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 5 years ago | (#25142491)

Call me up when they make a bourbon from some ancient, preserved corn.

Beer, hell. What does the BREAD taste like? (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#25142671)

This could produce a new bread flavor, as different from baker's yeast and sourdough breads as they are from each other.

One of the few times... (1)

Taibhsear (1286214) | more than 5 years ago | (#25142769)

Take ancient DNA to make dinosaur clones to rule the world? or ancient super diseases? or morally questionable practices? Nope, "Hey I know! Let's make beer out of it!" There are very very few times I love my country. This is definitely one of them. I would love 2 bottles of this. One to try, one as a souvenir.

strange/ancient brew that's also good for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25143013)

that would be kombucha.

Safety? (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 5 years ago | (#25144161)

Couldn't this be as dangerous as stuff from space? Millions of years might have been plenty of time for us to LOSE an immunity to something.

It begs the question "Did you make sure it was safe before drinking it?".

Some more info here (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 5 years ago | (#25146133)

Seems like it is also called "Tyrannosaurus-Rat beer" or "T-Rat beer" for short. Somehow that was also lost to marketing I suppose:

http://calpolynews.calpoly.edu/magazine/Spring-08/ancient-ale.html [calpoly.edu]

(from the link of their front page at the right bottom).

Re:Some more info here (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 5 years ago | (#25146151)

And google (+firefox search) is your friend, somebody seemed to like it:

The Tyrannosaurus Rat was an unbelieveable blend of hefe and Belgian Ale. One of the most delicious beers in the world.

http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/c1c37/b7cfa/2/ [virtualtourist.com]

Hmm, 45 MILLION years old? (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 5 years ago | (#25146527)

Am I the only one that would think twice before actually ingesting this stuff?

It just doesn't sound like a great idea. I'd wait a few months and see how the first guys to have a drink are doing.

Weird Spiciness (1)

gacl (1078259) | more than 5 years ago | (#25146965)

Later on the scientists realized that the "weird spiciness" was due to the fact that they were trying to make beer out of a weevil's dung.

Yeast from the gut of a Weevil (1)

JumperCable (673155) | more than 5 years ago | (#25146999)

So the yeast from the gut of a 45M Year old weevil is restricted to a narrow band of carbohydrates compared to modern yeast.

But have they compared it to yest from the guts of current day Weevils?

45million year old beer with a 'weird spiciness... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25148057)

[quote] the beer has 'a weird spiciness at the finish.[/quote]

I wonder why

its stale as shit

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