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Scientists Clone Oldest Living Organism

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the knew-ayers-rock-when-it-was-just-a-meteorite dept.

Earth 141

goran72 sends along the story of the world's oldest living organism, a shrub that grows in Tasmania and reproduces only by cloning. Tasmanian scientists have cloned Lomatia tasmanica as part of a battle to save it from a deadly fungus. From the RTBG's press release (which seems to load slowly in the US):"The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens [RTBG] is working towards securing the future of a rare and ancient Tasmanian native plant... Lomatia tasmanica, commonly known as King's Lomatia, is critically endangered with less than 500 plants growing in the wild in a tiny pocket of Tasmania's isolated south west. The RTBG has been propagating the plant from cuttings since 1994... 'Fossil leaves of the plant found in the south west were dated at 43,600 years old and given that the species is a clone, it is possibly the oldest living plant in the world,' [Botanist Natalie Tapson] said."

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Way of the Dodo? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29401099)

So can we have our Dodo bird back?

Re:Way of the Dodo? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29401175)

a penis can go in your ass and it can go in your mouth too. tho its better if its in your mouth and then in your ass. the other way around doesn't taste so good.

Re:Way of the Dodo? (1)

anastasd (849943) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401245)

I guess we will watch Jurassic Park 4 live. :)

Re:Way of the Dodo? (4, Funny)

node 3 (115640) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401483)

I guess we will watch Jurassic Park 4 live. :)

But only for dinosaurs that are not extinct, and naturally reproduce by cloning.

Great work scientists! You've cloned an already self-cloning plant! Maybe next you can work on creating flying birds...

Re:Way of the Dodo? (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401601)

But only for dinosaurs that are not extinct, and naturally reproduce by cloning.

Could you explain that last bit there, because I think they are mutually exclusive. To me it sounds like anything "natural" about this plant left in 1994...

Re:Way of the Dodo? (2, Informative)

Ian Alexander (997430) | more than 5 years ago | (#29402193)

There's nothing unnatural about it at all. Cloning is a not-uncommon way for plants to reproduce. A branch falls off, and instead of dying, it just becomes a new plant. It isn't cloning in the specific way that us metazoans are cloned, but the net effect is the same- a new individual that's genetically identical to the originator. That's how Lomatia tasmanica reproduces and has reproduced for a long time now. All we've done is help it along since 1994.

Re:Way of the Dodo? (5, Funny)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#29402255)

Nono, every 20,000 years or so an advanced civilization rises up from the prairies and survives roughly long enough to clone the plant in a lab. The plant has naturally evolved a mechanism whereby it propagates a miles-wide fibrous network of false fossils to interest paleontologists, with the most interesting fossils around the plant itself.

It's an extraordinarily patient tree.

Re:Way of the Dodo? (2, Informative)

mqduck (232646) | more than 5 years ago | (#29402829)

It then feeds on the newly sentient species?

Back to the topic ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29401765)

Great work scientists! You've cloned an already self-cloning plant! Maybe next you can work on creating flying birds...

... the [drum roll] Dodo?

Re:Way of the Dodo? (2, Funny)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401635)

Jurassic Park 4 Live, huh? I hear the theaters are going to charge an arm and a leg just to see it...

Re:Way of the Dodo? (1)

buswolley (591500) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401707)

not bad...not bad.

Why? (2, Insightful)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401437)

So we could have dodo-egg-flavored dog and cat food? Their meat tasted like ass and was somewhat less edible.

I'd rather have brought back a species whose extinction humans attributed to through over-hunting.
Like mammoth. I imagine they should be rather tasty.

Mmmmm... Mammoth ribs...

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29401487)

your forgetting the fact that writings say that the dodo was hilarious to watch and the sound while a tad disturbing was hilarious as well.

Re:Why? (3, Funny)

sayfawa (1099071) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401605)

...and the sound while a tad disturbing was hilarious as well.

It's true. This documentary [odeo.com] has the actual call of the dodo. Skip forward to about 4:20.

Re:Why? (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401573)

Their meat tasted like ass and was somewhat less edible.

Really? Is that why we ate them into extinction?

Re:Why? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401677)

They weren't eaten (particularly much), dogs and such destroyed their eggs, and we humans destroyed their habitat.

Re:Why? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29401671)

I'd rather have brought back a species whose extinction humans attributed to through over-hunting.

Mmmmm... Mammoth ribs...

Mmmmm...Neanderthal man...

Re:Way of the Dodo? (1)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401893)

So can we have our Dodo bird back?

Of course not, and you shouldn't make light of important research like this. The goal of this project is to ensure that our children's children are still able to enjoy the majesty that is the New York City New Year's celebration.

That's right - they've cloned Dick Clark.

Re:Way of the Dodo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29402291)

Contrary to many popular opinions, it should be known that Dick Clark is an Immortal (the other opinions being that he's a vampire, or perhaps a very tall and personable Gnome). As such, there can only be one Dick Clark.

Re:Way of the Dodo? (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#29402269)

I'd be happy to have our tomatoes back.

Re:Way of the Dodo? (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 5 years ago | (#29402857)

So can we have our Dodo bird back?

Why not? There's room for all the creatures of creation... right next to the mashed potatoes.
Looking forward to that Flintstone's size rack of ribs too!

why whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (3, Insightful)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401111)

If this site is "news for nerds", you'd think that nerds would understand what cloning was, and that cloning plants isn't some nefarious activity.

Re:why whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29401151)

If this site is "news for nerds", you'd think that nerds would understand what cloning was, and that cloning plants isn't some nefarious activity.

Tissue culture cloning isn't plug and play. Getting it right takes research. Some plants don't respond well to tissue culture and are still being figured out.

Re:why whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (1)

Xiph1980 (944189) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401295)

I think I cloned my first plant on the age of 6. It's not that difficult. It's not at all like cloning fauna....

Re:why whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29401347)

It is that difficult to tissue culture and you didn't do that at age 6 unless you had a hell of a setup.

I explained what was going on there but my post was deleted because I'm not a member of this site or something.

As a professional horticulturalist who does tissue culture I can say a lot of these replies are going about the logic of what's happened here all wrong.

Tissue culture is rarely plug and play. Tissue culture for many plants requires many steps and transplants through various nutrient and plant growth regulator medias. To even get to this point research must be done to figure how to coax cells into producing shoots and roots you can actually put into soil to grow.

Re:why whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (1)

Savior_on_a_Stick (971781) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401973)

Well, culturing species X the first time takes research.

The next time is just following a recipe.

Re:why whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (2, Insightful)

don depresor (1152631) | more than 5 years ago | (#29402253)

Then this plant must be some kind of super genius cloning itself without those advanced stuffs you mentioned...

Re:why whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (5, Funny)

Joe Tie. (567096) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401195)

I might agree, except that I was delighted how close that tag came to "what could possibly grow wrong".

Re:why whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401485)

I think we understand cloning enough to enjoy cloning the rather unique whatcouldpossiblygowrong tag ;)

Re:why whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (1)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401647)

From Frankenstein to modern Hollywood B movies, even otherwise rational people have a tendency to lose their head a little when they see the words 'biology' and 'technology' in the same sentence.

Re:why whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (2, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401695)

Beer is a technology that employs biology.

Re:why whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29401747)

Yes, and it frequently causes one to "lose their head".

Re:why whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29402387)

O rly? I find it tends to get me more head.

Re:why whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (1)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 5 years ago | (#29402577)

I'd say its more of a technique than a technology, but besides, it's old, and therefore viewed as OK. Try brewing beer with, say, genetically modified yeast, hops, and barley, and then suddenly you're an evil Frankenstein who wants to play god and poison everyone with vague and undefined toxins and cause AIDS or something. Until biotechnology in general becomes an old thing and the current generation dies off, biotechnology will be associated with fear.

Re:why whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29402517)

Things have certainly changed around *here*. I remember when this was all farmland as far the eye could see. Old man Peabody owned all of this. He had this crazy idea about breeding pine trees.

as opposed to those religious scientists I suppose (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401115)

or the skeptic scientists.

Re:as opposed to those religious scientists I supp (1)

WheelDweller (108946) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401527)

I think he meant 'religious' scientists, referring to the idea that consensus makes reality. (See also: ManMadeGlobalWarming(TM) where, whether it gets colder or hotter, it's happening because of global warming. And CO2 is the only cause, never the sun, the only real source of heat in our solar system.)

The climate can only be "right" the way it was at noon on the day of the International Geophysical Year...or we're all being plunged into hell from whose grasp we can be saved by sending money to our (bloated) governments. The same governments paying scientists to post corrupted work.

Now, I *am* religious...Christian, specifically. I don't consider myself a scientist, but given my understanding of why we're here, it's ridiculous to assume we'll use up all the resources by which to live, until He decides it's over. And that's "fire" of some sort. We tend to take care of ourselves; we're a little smarter than germs, who use everything up, then die.

Yet somehow, the 'enlightened' around us ignore that the fossil record counter-indicates CO2 being involved, and push the mantra, anyway. I'm just enjoying the show!

Go scientists! I'll pay you to say I'm 10 feet tall and ripped! :>

Re:as opposed to those religious scientists I supp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29401805)

my friend you are gonna be a tumblin' down toward that hellfire before ya even know it.

you won't be the first kentucky-fried slashdotter, thats fer sure.

Re:as opposed to those religious scientists I supp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29402209)

I think he meant 'religious' scientists, referring to the idea that consensus makes reality. (See also: ManMadeGlobalWarming(TM) where, whether it gets colder or hotter, it's happening because of global warming.

Ouch. Have you heard reports that the poles are getting warmer? That's the most significant effect of global warming, and it is quickly bringing up the average global temperature.

Heck, if "global warming" really picks up and messes with the jet stream, you would expect the United Kingdom to become as barren as Siberia and Canada, which are at the same latitudes. Even still, the global average would be higher than it is now. That's right: the UK is warm now, because the Arctic is cold. If the Arctic stops being so cold, the UK will stop being warm. That mechanism is understood very well.

And CO2 is the only cause, never the sun, the only real source of heat in our solar system.)

The sun's output hasn't varied sufficiently to cause an increase in temperatures. Moreover, the Sun's output couldn't possibly cause significant increases in Arctic and Antarctic temperatures (which is what is happening), without frying everybody at the equator. Remember how the Earth is a spheroid, and the poles are cold because they're furthest from direct sunlight?

Re:as opposed to those religious scientists I supp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29402243)

never the sun, the only real source of heat in our solar system

That's simply false. Europa is being heated by the tidal forces due to Jupiter. Our planet's magnetic field is caused by convection currents causing a dynamo effect. The most likely cause of the heating to cause the convection currents is radioactive decay within Earth's core.

not necessarily oldest living organism (5, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401123)

First, of course, what exactly constitutes a single "organism" is a bit controversial, especially with plants, and especially with clonal colonies. But even if you accept clonal colonies as bona-fide organisms, Pando [wikipedia.org] in Utah may or may not be older than Lomatia tasmanica [wikipedia.org] , depending on which age estimates you believe.

Re:not necessarily oldest living organism (3, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401167)

They're quite liberal with definitions in Tasmania. If there's more than a year age gap then technically your sister isn't a relative.

Re:not necessarily oldest living organism (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401373)

True story. Back in the 1980s I took a hitch hiking trip around Tasmania. I had a lot of trouble getting back to Devonport to catch my flight home because the east coast of Tasmania is a bit of a redneck retirement village and nobody was picking up hitch hikers (damn greenies, etc).

So I was stuck in this little town but along comes this old VW van. They stop and offer me a ride. Remember the bar scene in Star Wars ep 4? There were six people in that van with hideous facial deformities. And you know what? They were the nicest people I met all day. Took me as far as they were going and gave me advice about the region.

Back in those days there were very few immigrants around in Tassie. Very different from Victoria. I have been back a few times in the last couple of years and I am happy to say the place is changing for the better.

Re:not necessarily oldest living organism (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401469)

They're quite liberal with definitions in Tasmania. If there's more than a year age gap then technically your sister isn't a relative.

And if there's less than 9 months gap, then technically she's your clone[*].

[*] I know what you're thinking, but you're wrong. There are no fraternal twins in Tasmania.

Re:not necessarily oldest living organism (1)

Siridar (85255) | more than 5 years ago | (#29402657)

No, but there are plenty of maternal and paternal twins.

think about it.

Re:not necessarily oldest living organism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29401439)

Of course given that many species of Anemones reproduce by binary fission (and even budding) there's probably a good argument that the worlds oldest living organism is actually in the ocean.

Re:not necessarily oldest living organism (1)

physicsphairy (720718) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401779)

First, of course, what exactly constitutes a single "organism" is a bit controversial, especially with plants, and especially with clonal colonies.

Well, I think it's evident that what really excites us when we talk about "the oldest living organism" is that it is the oldest living organism without a genetic/metabolic "reboot." Same as I might brag that my OpenBSD server has an uptime of 5 years. Nobody cares if I've been doing fresh installs over 5 years, but if I've had the same system going without errors, hackers, or random happenstance taking it down, that is bragworthy.

If it's possible to kill one subset of the organism in question by disease without affecting the rest of the colony, I would say that there is too much distinctiveness between the individual plants to call them a single organism, at least in the sense in which we'd like to think of an "organism" here.

It's not the oldest living organism (1)

azav (469988) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401131)

It MAY be the oldest living leafy plant species but mosses and the horseshoe crab and many isopods are much much older and are complex organisms. There are bacteria (these are organisms too) that are millions of years older than this plant.

Re:It's not the oldest living organism (3, Informative)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401161)

Oldest living single organism, not oldest species.

Re:It's not the oldest living organism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29402487)

Things have certainly changed around here. I remember when this was all farmland as far the eye could see. Old man Peabody owned all of this. He had this crazy idea about breeding pine trees.

Re:It's not the oldest living organism (5, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401169)

This is arguing something different--- not that it's the earliest-to-emerge species with still-living individuals, but that this particular individual is the oldest one still alive. That depends on your definition of "organism" and "individual" and such. Clonal colonies are a bit of an edge case--- they reproduce by continuously producing what could be seen as new individuals, or could be seen as just new branches of the original individual (they often come up from the same root system). To take a similar example, is Pando [wikipedia.org] a single organism with a lot of trunks, which has been alive for tens of thousands of years; or is it a colony of individual trees, each of which has been around a lot less long?

And you can find even more edge cases--- there are stable mats of seagrass that might be 100,000-year-old organisms, if you consider clonal colonies to be individual organisms.

Re:It's not the oldest living organism (4, Insightful)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401179)

I believe they mean oldest living organism, in the sense of oldest living individual creature, and not the species as a whole.

In other words, they have a specific plant which first sprouted nearly 50,000 years ago. If there's an individual horseshoe crab that is 50,000 years old I'd be very surprised.

Re:It's not the oldest living organism (2, Insightful)

arminw (717974) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401343)

....which first sprouted nearly 50,000 years ago....

How do they know this? How do they know that their clock has been running accurately for that length of time? That is always one of the assumptions that is taken for granted when someone gives an age of thousands, millions or even billions of years. The assumptions may be valid, but the're still beliefs, because nobody knows for sure.

Re:It's not the oldest living organism (2, Informative)

yincrash (854885) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401529)

i believe they do core samples of the root systems and check rings. like ice cores. like all prehistoric analysis, it could be possible that 500 new rings grew in one year, but seeing as there is no evidence of that happening yet, it's improbable.

Re:It's not the oldest living organism (1)

arminw (717974) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401879)

....i believe they do core samples of the root systems and check rings...

The underlying assumption here of course is that each ring corresponds to one year. How about a correspondence to a wet and dry cycle instead? These could occur more often or less often than annually? If these wet and dry cycles occur semiannually for example, then the measurement would be off by a factor of two. There are places in the world today where there are two wet and dry cycles each year. We could try to extrapolate the present to the ancient past, but we have to be careful of the assumptions we make.

Re:It's not the oldest living organism (2, Informative)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 5 years ago | (#29402199)

The underlying assumption here of course is that each ring corresponds to one year.

And it's a reasonable assumption, since that's what has been observed in plants for a very long time.

Re:It's not the oldest living organism (1)

millennial (830897) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401729)

The assumptions are VALID, and therefore are NOT beliefs. If an assumption's validity was not KNOWN, THEN you could argue that it was just a belief. But the assumptions are validated by the fact that multiple disparate lines of evidence BASED on those assumptions CONVERGE ON THE SAME RESULT.

Re:It's not the oldest living organism (1)

arminw (717974) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401823)

..If an assumption's validity was not KNOWN...

An assumption is accepting something as true without proof. The underlying assumption here is that the various clocks that are used have always run at the same rate throughout the measurement. If that assumption, and that is an assumption is true, then the conclusions will be true according to that assumption. However, the assumption itself is a belief that something is true without proof. No matter how much extra evidence we have, if the underlying assumptions are wrong, I am not saying they are, but they could be, then the conclusions will be wrong as well.

We assume that the clock rates of for example radioactive processes have always been what we observe them to be today, but that may not necessarily be the case. Nothing in nature is as constant is change, so, the rates may not be the same today as they were ages ago. A human lifetime is like a nanosecond compared to the millions and billions of years of the Earth's history. There is evidence in fact, that some of the so-called constants in nature are not really all that constant, but are drifting slowly over time. Because our time here on this earth is only so short and we have been measuring things scientifically only for a couple hundred years or so, we cannot be totally certain of our interpretation of present data pertaining to the past. We hope we are right, but there is no way we can say for certainty whether an object is x number of billions or millions or thousands of years old. The truth is, that we hope we are right, but we don't really know for sure.

Re:It's not the oldest living organism (1)

PrimaryConsult (1546585) | more than 5 years ago | (#29402037)

That sounds like an argument a 'young earth' proponent would use. The various different methods of dating old things all corroborate each other. Though, to throw in the belief card, the Catholic Church doesn't even support 'young earth' any more...

Up next for the wizards at RTBG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29401145)

Cloning Strom Thurmond's nose.

Mucking with evolution (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29401183)

So I wonder what happens to evolution when we start mucking with the natural order of things. Maybe this plant should die for whatever reason. I mean it's one thing to save something that is artificially going extinct (eg. man-made reasons) but it's something else to save something that nature is killing.

I can't help but think that by artificially changing things we are headed towards the Idiocracy.

Re:Mucking with evolution (3, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401243)

Did you read the article the thing is being threated by a fungus not native to its habitat. In other words its something MAN brought to it, that is killing it.

Re:Mucking with evolution (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29401401)

Did you read the article the thing is being threated by a fungus not native to its habitat. In other words its something MAN brought to it, that is killing it.

Why do you automatically come to the conclusion that anything MAN does is somehow "not native"? Are humans native to this planet or not?

Why do you presume that humanity's actions are somehow "less natural" than the actions of other species?

Re:Mucking with evolution (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29401429)

What does philosophy have to do with fact?

F'n conservative hippies...

Re:Mucking with evolution (1)

graft (556969) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401917)

I think we can reasonably take "natural" as shorthand for "not influenced by humans". We might have some competition for most disruptive force to ever appear on this planet (e.g. the first oxygen-exhaling organisms), but we're definitely the worst to appear in eons, and we're unique in that we're the first thing to appear that has a fair chance of killing off all life on the planet. Basically what I'm saying is: come on, be reasonable. Of course humans are an abnormal influence on the planet.

Re:Mucking with evolution (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 5 years ago | (#29402821)

The environmentalists claim that human beings are destroying the planet. Everything is a part of nature except for human beings and our technology and what we invent.

Evolution says we are a part of nature and have evolved to become the most dominate form of life on the planet. But environmentalists ignore that part and claim we are not natural and not animals (ignoring that human beings are mammals) and that our works are destroying the planet.

Meanwhile natural wild fires destroy forests showing that nature is just as destructive as human beings, also hurricanes, tsunamis, earth quakes, floods, droughts, all of which are not human made but just as destructive as human beings are claimed to be.

Human beings are a part of nature, we are animals like all of the rest, but more evolved, but our basic instincts still guide us, as well as our ID and Ego, and our quest for more material things. Our destruction of the environment is a part of nature, as we are a part of nature itself. We just haven't evolved to the point that we have learned to preserve nature and change our technology, science, and activities to stop destroying the environment. But nature pushes back, as it has always done against life on the planet, and survival becomes one of adapting to change and learning from one's mistakes. No other animal on the planet besides human beings can adapt to change and learn from their mistakes as well as human beings can, but we destroy ourselves in war, politics, economics, and we poison our bodies with alcohol, illicit drugs, legal drugs, sexual diseases, and chemicals in drinking water, genetically engineered food (lowers our metabolism and makes most of us fat, causes some to develop food allergies) , and lack of exercise as machines do the work for us.

Have we really advanced that much, or have we taken steps backward and almost doomed us all?

Re:Mucking with evolution (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29401725)

Just because the fungus is not native to the habitat doesn't mean it got there by man. Organisms move all over the planet all by themselves.

Re:Mucking with evolution (0)

Starlon (1492461) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401265)

I agree, keeping old organisms alive will just dumb us down. On the other hand, if we kill everything off, we'll be all the smarter! Genius.

silly boy (0, Offtopic)

Savior_on_a_Stick (971781) | more than 5 years ago | (#29402023)

The Idiocracy is the natural order of things.

It's natural for species to become extinct over time, and gradually becoming too stupid seems to be our exit strategy.

facts (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29401227)

As a horticulturalist who's worked on tissue culture projects...

1- tissue culture is growing a piece of plant of a medium (usually agar with nutrients) through various stages

2- there is no universal formula and different plants need different nutrient and environmental mixes to go through each stage

3- you're trying to get this piece of plant to create a root and shoot system

4- it requires many different steps and setups/transplants to walk a piece of plant material through the stages to where you can actually put a piece of rooted material into the ground and know it will make a plant

5- you'd be amazed how picky (or impossible...so far) it is to coax a chunk of plant tissue into creating a whole new plant out of it's cells

Re:facts (3, Funny)

kramulous (977841) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401829)

5- you'd be amazed how picky (or impossible...so far) it is to coax a chunk of plant tissue into creating a whole new plant out of it's cells

Buy it a drink?

Oldest living organism? (3, Funny)

Gudeldar (705128) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401235)

Since when were clones of something considered to be the same organism. I better tell my friend who has an identical twin that she is technically the same person as her sister.

Re:Oldest living organism? (1)

Megahard (1053072) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401277)

Bristlecone pines [wikipedia.org] are generally considered the oldest living organisms. It's really a leap to try to count clones as the same organism. And if you do, you have no idea what the oldest is because many species reproduce by clones with unknown dates of origin.

Re:Oldest living organism? (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 5 years ago | (#29402539)

Organisms like Pando [wikipedia.org] sure look like a single organism to me. The "trees" are simply energy collectors for the plant, if one is destroyed no big deal, it sends up another. Sorta like the hairs on my head, if I cut one, it simply grows back, and they produced inside my body and sent out.

Pando is actually a male aspen and can reproduce the normal plant way, but the result would produce a new root system from seedlings that are genetically different from Pando, and would be a different organism if they ever took hold. They don't though, the trees (also called stems) shoot up from the roots. The conditions are no longer right for Pando to reproduce. It just keeps growing instead.

Best guess puts Pando at 80,000 years, which really is little more than a guess, because the tree could easilly be 1 million years old - and some people think it might be.

The difficulty with these types of organisms is in the definition, and what you consider the organism. For example, some argue that colonial organisms like Pando cannot be considered individual organisms because the original root systems may have died off. However, by that definition animals could only be considered a few months to a few years old, after which point they are a new organism, because cells are constantly dieing and being replaced (via cloning, btw).

I say such organisms, so long as they are contiguous and have not been completely removed from the main organism are still an individual organism. They are just large on a scale that is hard to imagine, and tend to live primarily underground, making them seem like separate organisms.

Re:Oldest living organism? (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401283)

Clonal colonies are an edge case of sorts, especially with plants. They're somewhere in between a single plant that keeps sending up new shoots, and new plants that reuse the same root system, depending on how you look at it. It's not just that they're clones, but that they continue to live attached to each other, sprouting from the same system of roots and often sharing nutrients.

Re:Oldest living organism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29401333)

Ever clone a plant? It's not like human cloning.

Re:Oldest living organism? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29401377)

I did them both, and I couldn't tell the difference.

Good Job (4, Insightful)

laron (102608) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401285)

So they cloned a plant that has hitherto successfully cloned itself for a thousands years without any help?

Re:Good Job (1)

pitchpipe (708843) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401877)

Scientists Clone Oldest Living Organism

Which was so old, it immediately died.

cloning = just taking cuttings (4, Interesting)

Frogg (27033) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401453)

it is worth noting that in horticulture 'cloning' is simply the technical name for the process of propagating a plant through the use of cuttings.

you need no lab to do it - just simply a pair of scissors (or a scalpel), some rooting gel/powder and a rooting medium (compost will do), and a healthy donor ('mother') plant to work from. using a propagation unit will also give better results (perhaps better still if it's heated). 'cloning' plants in this fashion is actually very easy to do - my mum's a keen gardener and she does it with all kinds of plants all the time (one poster here claims to have cloned a plant at age 6 - and i have no reason to doubt that at all!!).

cloning is the primary method used to produce lots of (genetically) identical baby plants for use in commercial growing of all kinds (including, afaiu, in the illegal production of marijuana)

personally, i don't think this is particularly newsworthy, even if they are doing this with one of the oldest plant species in the world.

Re:cloning = just taking cuttings (1)

bloopblorp (1636399) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401565)

This is an absolute untruth and is ignorant to an entire side of plant breeding which brings us some of our most important ornamental plants. Tissue culture is NOT sticking a tomato plant into a jar and waiting for it to sprout roots. Tissue culture is a heavily funded and researched science to clone plants which are not easily (or at all) able to be cloned. This process involves very sterile conditions and movement of plant tissue through various stages of nutrient and plant growth regulation in media. This media is usually sterile agar. This is very newsworthy, but not for this site.

Re:cloning = just taking cuttings (1)

Frogg (27033) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401703)

agreed, i spoke before reading the article - but what i say isn't an absolute untruth, it's really just a hastily made comment! :)

the point i was specifically trying to make was that this wasn't the kind of low-level cloning involving dna and rna (like in 'jurassic park') but that this is cloning in the horticultural sense, which is about taking a cutting (living tissue) from a plant and seducing it into growing roots.

in my second post (below) you'll see that i acknowledge this isn't easy for all plants - indeed i am an amateur when it comes to this topic, but my layman's explanation was merely trying to give more of a clue to some of the clueless out there.

i am glad to stand corrected (and to be further informed) by someone with greater knowledge than myself, because it is a topic i have a mild interest in. but i don't think my somewhat ignorant comment was really an absolute untruth. :)

(fwiw i still think the linked news article is a pretty spectacular fail - but that may be my ignorance just as much as it is the main-stream press journalist's)

Re:cloning = just taking cuttings (1)

Frogg (27033) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401593)

i'll reply to myself...! (now i've read the article - heh)

having said all that, i should point out that whilst cloning / taking cuttings in general is fairly simple process, some plants are harder to root than others - indeed, the article states that rooting these particular cuttings without them dying (blackening) isn't the primary problem, they say they're also having problems when potting-up/transplanting them because the plant has particularly sensitive roots.

one of the linked articles said that the plant is a 'genetic freak' because of its method of reproduction - this isn't true either, there are a lot of other plants which reproduce naturally through the growth of suckers.

and root-rot (of various kinds, including the specific fungus mentioned) is a very common problem - some plants being more hardy towards it than others.

so, i take it back, this is newsworthy, but not really because of any of the techniques used, instead moreso because they are preserving such an old species which is so low in numbers / near to extinction

but don't be fooled by the reporting journo's lack of horticultural understanding -- this isn't massively high-tech for the horticultural world by a long stretch!

Re:cloning = just taking cuttings (1)

Frogg (27033) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401865)

to be less of an 'absolute untruth' ;) and for the sake of clarity, perhaps what i meant say was:-

in its simplest form you need no lab to do it - [...]

I'll wait (1)

pcolaman (1208838) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401561)

for the movie, starring Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill

Pandas (1)

jimshatt (1002452) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401571)

Also, it so happens to be a great food source for pandas. Lucky for the Lomatia Tasmanica they don't live near them.

Scientists Clone Oldest Living Organism (3, Insightful)

iamapizza (1312801) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401615)

Why would we need another Bob Dole?

Maybe not cloned but older (1)

Gruff1002 (717818) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401617)

Actually the oldest organism brought back to life but not cloned was 45 million year old yeast fossilized in amber as per this story from Wired [wired.com]

Many other organisms reproduce asexually (1)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401693)

Some of them have done so for much longer than this plant, eg Bdelloid rotifers [wikipedia.org] . Smaller organisms, eg bacteria do not reproduce sexually, although through conjugation they can swap genes with other bacteria so you might say that it is not the same thing as it was before.

Just as wrong? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401767)

Isn’n “saving” a naturally dying species just as wrong as killing a naturally surviving one?

Oh, and if you want to get really deep: Aren’t our actions just as much part of nature, and doesn’t this mean, that what we do or don’t do, can by definition not be against nature?
(If we’re accepting this view, then how do we determine “The Right Thing”(TM), and why would there even be such a concept in nature? For what goal, if not for the benefit of the growth of the bio-mass that we call ourselves?)

Re:Just as wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29402109)

(posting anonymously to avoid being called a kook) There is no "Right Thing". The universe is just a huge space with differences in energy and density. In a few billion or trillion years, the universe will have evened out to zero anyway, so what we do in these 5,000 or so years we have left as a solvent society / species hardly matters.

What is Cloning? (1)

c0d3r (156687) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401785)

Exactly what is cloning? I've heard of people cloning plants, but i think thats when they cut off a stem with leaves to regrow it. Is that what they are talking about?

-M

paying penance for tasmanian aborigines (1)

blagg3r (1165435) | more than 5 years ago | (#29401797)

lest we forget, they also died from disease. all of them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tasmanian_Aborigines [wikipedia.org]

Re:paying penance for tasmanian aborigines (1)

asifyoucare (302582) | more than 5 years ago | (#29402049)

lest we forget, they also died from disease. all of them.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tasmanian_Aborigines [wikipedia.org]

I am a descendant of Tasmanian Aboriginals, as are many other people born in Tasmania. They were terribly mistreated but it is misleading to say that all of them died when so many of them interbred with the colonists.

It's ok, you can admit it too. (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 5 years ago | (#29402005)

C'mon, you can admit it. I am not the only one in this crowd who initially read the headline as Scientists Clone Oldest Living Orgasm.

Re:It's ok, you can admit it too. (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 5 years ago | (#29402397)

ME TOO!

</eternal_september>

missing tag (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 5 years ago | (#29402547)

nomnomnom...

I want to EAT the ancient plant! NOM NOM NOM...

RS

Okay (1)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 5 years ago | (#29402943)

So the cloned something that only reproduces by being cloned. Umm... am I missing something here?
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