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DNA Analysis Hints At a Fourth Domain of Life

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the not-even-counting-the-hereafter dept.

Earth 124

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

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Fake? (-1, Troll)

slashcomma6 (2025470) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607576)

Its like 5th state of matter [blog.com] that once was proposed

Re:Fake? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35607726)

Since you enjoy posting that picture so much does that mean you're gay?

Re:Fake? (1)

trparky (846769) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607730)

Jesus Christ! My eyes! They're burning!

Re:Fake? (2)

Lazareth (1756336) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607798)

I've learned to, very effectively, bring my eyes out of focus before clicking a link from an untrusted source. The result is a heavily lessened impact should the link be, ah, "visually malicious" while I can still recognize patterns without getting the details burned onto my retina.

It is amazing how one can learn to defend themselves mentally while browsing the internet.

Re:Fake? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35607896)

or just eventually not care about seeing horrendously gross pictures.

Re:Fake? (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608940)

The same system prevents most slashdotters from RTFA.

Re:Fake? (1)

monkyyy (1901940) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607912)

i should have known -__-

Re:Fake? (1)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608902)

How'd you manage to type that? Looked like your hands were tied up, and I find it hard to believe that you could even see a keyboard after pulling your head out of that.

So... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35607600)

...they discovered The Jersey Shore?

Re:So... (2)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#35610486)

...they discovered The Jersey Shore?

No... They said cultured organism.

Re:So... (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#35610558)

Can't be, they said "cultured life". Unless they're talking about one of the cast's STD tests...

Nah, I'll belive it when I see it (-1, Troll)

slashcomma7 (2025596) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607642)

But nevertheless the microbes that harness radiation [blog.com] , are really coll

Re:Nah, I'll belive it when I see it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35607650)

NSFW Troll

Re:Nah, I'll belive it when I see it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35607654)

oh, interesting. It doesn't look like they could be controlled on a large enough scale to clean up Japan, though.

Obviously... (4, Informative)

NecroPuppy (222648) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607656)

It's the seeds of life left by the Great Old Ones.

you meen the Ancients? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607748)

you meen the Ancients?

Re:you meen the Ancients? (2)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607876)

No, I think he means the Old Ones.

And they will return some day.

Web version:
http://www.fredvanlente.com/cthulhutract/pages/index.html [fredvanlente.com]

PDF version:
http://www.fredvanlente.com/downloads/WhyWeHere.pdf [fredvanlente.com]

Your only hope is suicide or to be eaten first.

ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!

--
BMO - The button says submit and I have the choice now, but when the Old Ones appear, I may lose that choice.

Re:you meen the Ancients? (3, Funny)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607978)

No, I think he means the Old Ones.

And they will return some day.

[...]

Your only hope is suicide or to be eaten first.

Well hopefully not tomorrow, I have a dentist's appointment.

Re:you meen the Ancients? (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608004)

Don't be so negative. Maybe your dentist reads slashdot, and won't be alive tomorrow!

Re:you meen the Ancients? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35608030)

That would be a good excuse to get out of it. I think I'm going to call out sick with a mental illness.

Re:you meen the Ancients? (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608666)

If you think you can get away with that, you're crazy.

Re:you meen the Ancients? (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608112)

Well hopefully not tomorrow, I have a dentist's appointment.

When is your dentist's appointment?

2:30

Re:you meen the Ancients? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609192)

Well hopefully not tomorrow, I have a dentist's appointment.

When is your dentist's appointment?

2:30

*groan*

Yep, and it's on board a ship, so they call him The Tooth Ferry.

any more for any more?

Re:you meen the Ancients? (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609320)

-1 Groan

Re:you meen the Ancients? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35608228)

Dentists work on a 30 day billing cycle. The girl that does billing is going to be really pissed. Likewise the dentist's SO is going to shit when he/she has to reschedule their vacation in the afterlife. Question? Do Dentists smell like that all the time? Or does that smell wash off? Worst breath for a Dr. for me was a 85 Year old Ophthalmologist that needed a Dentist.

Re:you meen the Ancients? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609982)

Well hopefully not tomorrow, I have a dentist's appointment.

Personally I would be more like "On the bright side, I don't have to go to that dentist's appointment.."

Re:Obviously... (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607846)

Chattur'gha wishes to destroy this knowledge. Mantorok is your only hope.

Re:Obviously... (1)

ArundelCastle (1581543) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607938)

You're insane. Xel'lotath is all.

Re:Obviously... (1)

Wolfling1 (1808594) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607984)

Obligatory: Don't you mean they're midichlorians?

Re:Obviously... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35608098)

That's obligatory in the same way that raping a skankily clad 13 year-old is obligatory.

It's not, and everyone thinks you're a monster.

Intersting (-1, Troll)

slashcomma8 (2025598) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607670)

They found that cells have two nucleus [blog.com] instead of one. Could that be some sort of merged like in out mitochondria case?

I looked at two phyl. trees presented there (3, Interesting)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607674)

.. and I am underwhelmed.

First figure does not identify (at cursory look) domains and the second figure shows "unknown" samples mixed up between bacteria and killer plasmids or between different branches of eukaryota.

Frankly, I spent only a minute looking at this paper, so anybody who went deeper please share

Re:I looked at two phyl. trees presented there (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35608742)

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

Re:I looked at two phyl. trees presented there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35611776)

virii

viruses [wiktionary.org]

This comment has too few characters per line (currently 3.0).

Re:I looked at two phyl. trees presented there (2)

De_Boswachter (905895) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609028)

Not underwhelmed here. It really is just a hint, as the title says. I spent a few minutes looking at it. At first sight, they could have been new sequences representing life forms from either of the three existing domains, or viruses. And, indeed, in the discussion section, they are careful with their explanations. The last two of four are deemed the most plausible.

"[...] A third possibility is that the genes from novel subfamilies come from novel heretofore uncharacterized viruses. Given that the known viral world represents but a small fraction of the total extant diversity, and given some of the unexpected discoveries coming from viral genomics recently, this is entirely possible. For example, viruses have been characterized with markedly larger genomes that contain not only more genes, but genes previously found only in cellular organisms. In some cases, the viral forms of these genes appear to be phylogenetically novel compared to those in cellular organisms.

[Explanation 4:] It has not escaped our notice that the characteristics of these novel sequences are consistent with the possibility that they come from a new (i.e., fourth) major branch of cellular organisms on the tree of life. That is, their phylogenetic novelty could indicate phylogenetic novelty of the organisms from which they come. Clearly, confirmation or refutation of this possibility requires follow-up studies such as determining what is the source of these novel, deeply branching sequences (e.g., cellular organisms or viruses). Then, depending on the answers obtained, more targeted metagenomics or single-cell studies may help determine whether the novelty extends to all genes in the genome or is just seen for a few gene families."

Most likely, these new sequences are from viruses, but I can't suppress hoping that there really are more domains out there.

Re:I looked at two phyl. trees presented there (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609230)

Why do they make always the most exciting claim in the article? It's not like they are selling something, right...?

Oh, wait...

Re:I looked at two phyl. trees presented there (1)

De_Boswachter (905895) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609360)

I don't see any claim. Only a hypothesis. And what's wrong with an exciting hypothesis? I'd like to know, from you, why their hypothesis is implausible.

Re:I looked at two phyl. trees presented there (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 3 years ago | (#35610020)

"Hypotheses non fingo"

Re:I looked at two phyl. trees presented there (1)

De_Boswachter (905895) | more than 2 years ago | (#35611888)

I hypothesise that, if everyone, like Newton, would not have hypothesized, science would not have advanced much as it would have today. And on a personal note: what a pompous bore he must have been.

Re:I looked at two phyl. trees presented there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609448)

"the authors found sequences not yet seen in any cultured organism."
I think the operative term here is 'uncultured'.
The genomic data that we currently have is indeed only from organisms we can culture (i.e that are able to grow on agar plates, basically speaking),
however, the genomic data that we do have enables us to analyze relatedness due to sequence deviations and for example estimate how long ago two related species diverged out of a common ancestor.
Now if the difference is large enough you might conclude the two species are in different kingdoms altogether.
If this phylogenetic tree is correct than the two unknown domains could indeed be called 'new kingdoms' (the division goes back as far as those of other kingdoms).
I'm not convinced, however, because in this tree Archea are more related to Prc2 and Rpb2 Eukaryotes than those are related to the other (Rpa2) Eukaryotes, which seems odd.
In fact, after taking a closer look, many species are listed in all three eukaryote groups, who's division goes back even further that that of the unknown.
Yeah, I'd say it's very doubtful

DNA is limiting (3, Interesting)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607678)

The Venter approach is something akin to taking a library, putting the whole thing through a paper shredder, and trying to figure out how many languages there were in the library from a statistical analysis of the groupings of the letters on each piece of paper. It is marvelous, but it has its limits.

If there were true aliens among us (microscopic organisms that did not use DNA for genetics), the Venter approach would not see them. I do not know of a good way to luck for such creatures, but I wish someone would figure one out, and apply it to something like Venter's samples.

Re:DNA is limiting (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35608394)

A better metaphor would be randomly shredding the contents of thousands of libraries which are likely to have many duplicate books between their catalogs. This leads to fragments boundaries from a shredded copy of BookA from LibraryX unlikely to be exactly the same as the fragment boundaries for BookA from LibraryY, and thus algorithms can try to match the overlapping bits of partial-duplicate fragments to reconstruct large portions of whole books.

Re:DNA is limiting (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35608462)

I'm curious on what basis do you talk about such things?

A. What Venter did not invent this approach it was merely one of the first large scale applications of 2nd generation sequencing (pyrosequencing).
B. It is nothing like the analogy you gave of shedding a library to determine how many languages. Hint: less statistical analysis and more string matching to cultured (well known) sequences.
C. Aliens that do not use dna completely misses the point of the articule.
D. Funny story. The tube that Venter used to collect samples was the same tube that they used to pump bigle from the boat. Those samples aren't contaminated at all ;)

Re:DNA is limiting (1)

alostpacket (1972110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608532)

I do not know of a good way to luck for such creatures, but I wish someone would figure one out

Follow the rainbow to the end for the pot of gold.

Re:DNA is limiting (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608886)

If there were true aliens among us (microscopic organisms that did not use DNA for genetics), the Venter approach would not see them.

Of course not. Nor is it what they were looking for, nor is it what is being claimed. But thanks for the complete non sequitur.

I have a cookbook that explains how to bake an apple pie. This technique is also completely useless for finding microscopic organisms that don't use DNA. But it makes great tasting pie nonetheless. Criticizing it for failing to find non-DNA based life forms, but merely making great tasting pie, is a special kind of stupid...

Re:DNA is limiting (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608916)

Its not about detecting non-DNA life.

The principle is that the main way that we detect microbial life is by culturing it. Take a sample, swipe some on agar on a petri dish, see what cultures grow. Take sample of culture, DNA test/examine under microscope etc, document and catalog. For added versatility try culturing with variations of medium, temperature etc.

Unfortunately it might be that the majority of microbial life on Earth does not grow on the kind of cultures that we prepare for these experiments and the most effective way to detect the existance of such life is by DNA analysis such as this paper documents. Otherwise we might never know that they exist; you can't just stick a soil sample under a microscope and go "by jingo I see a type of microbe that has surely never been documented!"

Re:DNA is limiting (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609102)

The trouble is that if you widen your search for things that aren't DNA too, you are going to get a whole load of false positives. I bet every time lightning strikes it mixes up a whole bunch of molecules in such a way that they could in theory form part of some non-DNA (or even non-carbon) lifeform.

Re:DNA is limiting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609788)

"I do not know of a good way to luck for such creatures"

Some kind of seance? ;)

First domain (0)

Kwiik (655591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607708)

I still play on one of the original servers, Arkas

More details from an author (5, Informative)

2br02b (448267) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607716)

One of the paper's authors has posted more details on his blog here http://phylogenomics.blogspot.com/2011/03/story-behind-story-of-my-new-plosone.html

We do not have a conclusive explanation for the origin of these sequences. They may be from novel viruses. They may be ancient paralogs of the marker genes. Or they may be from a new branch of cellular organisms in the tree of life, distinct from bacteria, archaea or eukaryotes. I think most likely they are from novel viruses. But we just don't know.

Re:More details from an author (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607766)

Quite a different phrase caught my eye:

This is a post about a paper that has been a long long time coming

And I, for one, welcome our new... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35607746)

overlords.

Bigfoot (0)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607758)

Yeah, you read the subject right. Bigfoot.

Re:Bigfoot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35607804)

Leave Bigfoot alone!! [youtube.com]

"You're lucky he even comes out of the woods for you BASTARDS!!"

Re:Bigfoot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35607992)

But he has such a lovely singing voice...

Re:Bigfoot (2)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607928)

The four domains of life are as follows: eukaryotes, bacteria, archaea, William Shatner.

Re:Bigfoot (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608028)

The four domains of life are as follows: eukaryotes, bacteria, archaea, Chuck Norris.

There - fixed that for ya.

Re:Bigfoot (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608116)

The four domains of life are as follows: eukaryotes, bacteria, archaea, Chuck Norris.

There - fixed that for ya.

No, there used to be 24 forms of life. Chuck Norris solved that.

"Environmental samples"? (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607768)

How exactly are they defining this term? What constitutes an "environmental sample" to a geneticist or evolutionary biologist?

Re:"Environmental samples"? (2)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607802)

Basically it's sequencing ocean instead of organism (the latter is more complicated and thus does not have a future). Or human gut. Or soil.

When identifying organism sequence analysis relies on many markers in many genes. Here it's not possible, because you have just separated genes from many organisms.

Re:"Environmental samples"? (1)

jestill (656510) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607808)

They went to the ocean, scooped up some water, and the sequenced it. In environmental genomic sampling, you target an environment for sequencing (biofilm, soil, water, the human gut etc) and not a specific genome (corn, rice, humans etc).

Re:"Environmental samples"? (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607856)

But in reading the Economist article, filters (and by extension pore diameter) were mentioned, so apparently they (Venter?) were intending to scoop up actual organisms. Is the difference that they don't care whether they're intact or distinct? Is that what characterizes an "environmental sample", where DNA of multiple species is muddied together, and likely just fragments? I know nothing of the techniques used to cull DNA from either distinct creatures or rough samples.

Re:"Environmental samples"? (5, Informative)

reverseengineer (580922) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608304)

Yes, for an environmental sample like this, the totality of the sample's DNA is isolated and sequenced together, producing a library of mostly partial genomes. The original Venter paper http://www.sciencemag.org/content/suppl/2004/04/01/1093857.DC1/Venter.SOM.pdf [sciencemag.org] (might require registration) about the expedition/ yacht cruise details the methods used to collect and extract the sample:

Sampling on the RV Weatherbird II was done as follows: Seawater (170 liters) from stations 11 and 13 was directly filtered through a 0.8m Supor membrane disc filter (Pall Life Sciences) followed in series by a 0.22m Supor membrane disc filter (Pall Life Sciences). The sample from station 3 was pumped into a 250 L carboy prior to being filtered through the impact filters. The length of time from collection of the sample until the end of the filtration step was approximately one hour. Filters were placed in 5ml of sucrose lysis buffer (20mM EDTA, 400mM NaCl, 0.75 M Sucrose, 50mM Tris-HCl, pH 9.0) and stored in liquid nitrogen on the Weatherbird then placed at -80C until DNA extractions were done.

Sample preparation. The impact filters were cut into quarters and placed in individual 50 ml conical tubes. TE buffer (5 ml, pH 8) containing 150 ug/ml lysozyme was added to each tube. The tubes were incubated at 37oC for 2 hours. SDS was added to 0.1% and the samples were then put through three freeze/thaw cycles. The lysate was then treated with Proteinase K (100 ug/mL) for one hour at 55oC followed by three aqueous phenol extractions and one extraction with phenol/chloroform. The supernatant was then precipitated with two volumes of 100% ethanol and the DNA pellet washed with 70% ethanol.

Which is all to say that a large amount of seawater was filtered through filters of appropriate pore size to catch microbes, the cells were broken open and the proteins were broken down, and the DNA was extracted with alcohol. The DNA extraction procedure is pretty standard for anything whose genes you'd like to sequence; more commonly, the sample would be made of cells from a single species or organism, like a human blood sample or a bacteria cell culture, but in this case, the sample is a mixture of all of the microbes in 175 liters of seawater.

Re:"Environmental samples"? (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608978)

Thanks for that. I understand just enough of it to grasp the essential process now.

Re:"Environmental samples"? (1)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608350)

Yes, they scoop up many organisms, then extract DNA and sequence bits of it. Except for sequences which match the DNA of something already known, they can't tell what the organisms were, or which fragments belong together.

More than one domain? (2, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607774)

I mean there's life.com, life.net, life.org, life.co.uk...

Re:More than one domain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35607870)

I mean there's life.com, life.net, life.org, life.co.uk...

DIAF

Irony is... (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607884)

...telling someone to die in a thread about life!

Carl Zimmer has also written on this (4, Informative)

Ranger (1783) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607778)

for a lay audience. And did a great write up. Glimpses of the Fourth Domain? http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/loom/2011/03/18/glimpses-of-the-fourth-domain/ [discovermagazine.com]

Re:Carl Zimmer has also written on this (1)

gblackwo (1087063) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607996)

Interestingly, according to that article, the fourth domain of DNA consists of a group of viruses. So I guess this is getting close to that gray area of "What constitutes life".

Dnamaged ? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607820)

What if that DNA comes originally from one of the known domains, but was somewhat damaged by chemicals/radiation/whatever sources so it couldn't be recognized as a normal one?

Re:Dnamaged ? (4, Insightful)

Altrag (195300) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608558)

Absolutely. However, there's a few caveats:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Re:Dnamaged ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609600)

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

Unless all of them got rubber-stamped by identical retroviruses.

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

"Detrimental" is too strict. There would be far less biodiversity if plain detrimental was a show-stopper. Probably most speciations begin with a step backwards - forcing affected organism and its offspring to look for new environmental niche that fits them better, then rewarding each small evolutionary step toward better adaptation to it. Winners never need to change their ways, outsiders do. So ... all of us complicated multicell organisms are just result of unbroken chain of repeated evolutionary losses and taking refuge in some calmer waters ... you know, ... "Hakuna Matata!" Those microscopic jocks who pushed us out billions of years ago, they occasionally beat are collective asses even today!

good (-1)

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Wait wait.... (1)

Dutchmaan (442553) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607958)

Let's call it.... a "Memristorganism"

Viral DNA? (2)

Guppy (12314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607964)

http://phylogenomics.blogspot.com/2011/03/story-behind-story-of-my-new-plosone.html [blogspot.com]

They may be from novel viruses. The They may be ancient paralogs of the marker genes. Or they may be from a new branch of cellular organisms in the tree of life, distinct from bacteria, archaea or eukaryotes. I think most likely they are from novel viruses.

I'm going to go with this last opinion as well, it's probably from some virus, which would account for the sequence wackiness. I'm wondering if they can construct some speculative primers and (without isolating the organism) start sequencing outwards from these novel sequences, maybe get enough to tell if it's a virus or a novel organism.

Re:Viral DNA? (2)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608100)

http://phylogenomics.blogspot.com/2011/03/story-behind-story-of-my-new-plosone.html [blogspot.com]

They may be from novel viruses. The They may be ancient paralogs of the marker genes. Or they may be from a new branch of cellular organisms in the tree of life, distinct from bacteria, archaea or eukaryotes. I think most likely they are from novel viruses.

I'm going to go with this last opinion as well, it's probably from some virus, which would account for the sequence wackiness. I'm wondering if they can construct some speculative primers and (without isolating the organism) start sequencing outwards from these novel sequences, maybe get enough to tell if it's a virus or a novel organism.

They nearly destroyed Skynet last time, but some of the Novell viruses survived.

Who'd a thunk it? (5, Funny)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607988)

"... the authors found sequences not yet seen in any cultured organism."

Hillbilly DNA. Will wonders never cease?

Re:Who'd a thunk it? (1)

ikarys (865465) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609634)

I thought it might be Xenu semen.

fourth domain of life (4, Funny)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608118)

The fourth domain of life must be the politicians, they appear to be intelligent but are mostly flat-liners.

Re:fourth domain of life (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608392)

comasexuals you mean?

But we've already known this for years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35608236)

Lawyer joke in 5... 4... 3...

Barak-O-Vision Usurpts 4th Domain (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35608272)

At the "White House" President-n-God Barak-O-Vision receives a messanger.

Messanger: "Barak-O-Vision, Barak-O-Vision."

Barak-O-Vison: "Why yes, Oh toiling Smirf without Miranda Rights."

Messanger: "Barak-O-Vision, the most Opulent. There is a 4th Domain of Life."

Barak-O-Vision: "Why yes, O-smerf without Miranda Rights, ... I am the 4th Domain of Life. All, Hail, the mighty Barak-O-Vision!"

--308

the hint... (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608384)

If there where a forth domain of life the method we have used would find it... if and only if.

God done it (1)

jgoemat (565882) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608498)

Instead of researching the possibilities of this new data, possibly giving us insights into how life evolved on Earth, why don't we just clasp our hands in prayer and thanks for the wonders of Intelligent Design?

I love Plos One... (2)

wherrera (235520) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608618)

Plos One, the New Internet Age's online quicker-to-publish-than-verify journal.

Its record: 10% genuine breakthroughs, 50% hype, and 40% bad data. (Caveat: the previous sentence may be bad data.)

Your call on this one.

Re:I love Plos One... (1)

pz (113803) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609668)

Plos One, the New Internet Age's online quicker-to-publish-than-verify journal.

Its record: 10% genuine breakthroughs, 50% hype, and 40% bad data. (Caveat: the previous sentence may be bad data.)

Your call on this one.

You are basing these assertions on what data? And PLoS ONE differs from other publications by how much in these figures?

If 10% of a journal's papers were actual breakthroughs, that would be exceptionally high. If true, we wouldn't be debating the added value that journals provide, for all we would need to do is to point to that example.

We can't culture most organisms (2)

mlush (620447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609236)

Take a soil or a skin sample we don't know the correct conditions to grow >%90 of the organisms in that sample you can lob them in jar of nutrient broth but some simply won't grow while others will out-compete everything. Saying found sequences not yet seen in any cultured organism is a bit like saying found paving slabs not seen under any streetlight.

unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609804)

Looking at their data to me it seems that they might have found a deep branching group (phylum) within the domain bacteria. This 4th domain hypothesis however falls completely flat because they can't show a novel ssRNA group (they looked, but didn't find).

Wouldn't it be the fifth? (1)

hufter (542690) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609858)

I thought we already have four, in common terms: plants, animals, fungi and bacteria. So if something else is discovered it would be the fifth. No?

Re:Wouldn't it be the fifth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609942)

You just named there with non-scientific names 3 phyla of eukarya and 1 domain: bacteria. There are countless of phyla of eukarya, I think over 10 at least. Can't be bothered to check. As for domains: atm we recognize 3: eukarya, bacteria and archaea

Re:Wouldn't it be the fifth? (1)

hufter (542690) | more than 2 years ago | (#35611264)

So do plants and fungi share the same ancestor, among some other creatures? Do they share DNA or how do we know this? And that bacteria isn't the same "life form"? Oh, you learn something every day, and once in a while you learn that what you were taught in school is bogus.

Re:Wouldn't it be the fifth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35612116)

Everything alive on Earth shares a common ancestor. According to current understanding there are 3 ancient lineages (archaea, bacteria and eukarya) that haven't shared common ancestors in > 3 billion years, however there's been a lot of horizontal (in contrast to vertical) gene transfer between the 3 lineages. Universal common ancestry is evident, because the lineages have a lot (very scientific term) in common. The division between the lineages is mostly based on genes coding the 16S (18S in eukarya) ribosomal subunit (which is fundamental because of its role in translation). Trees based on other essential genes come up very similar. Of the 3 lineages (domains) bacteria is the most unique, as eukarya and achaea are more closely related to each other.

"It's life, Jim... (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#35610016)

...but not as we know it."

We come in peace! (1)

tangelogee (1486597) | more than 2 years ago | (#35611352)

Shoot to kill!

not the only ones... (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 2 years ago | (#35610188)

Humans have this notion their science as it is now, is 100% complete, and yet, when I know that there are so many new ways of seeing things, x-ray,ultraviolet,infrared, etc.... which have been developed in the last 50 years or so, you tend to think, there might be a few more spectrums we know nothing about, not even its existence, so why think that all we know is all there is, why not leave some room for discoveries, like this goo, its a 4th type of creation material, but there could be a 5th, 6th, 7th we don't know about, what I dont get is why the science community is so surprised by this, hell sounds like they are not ready to accept there could be more yet to be explained.

Welcome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35612424)

I, for one, welcome our new viral Lords!

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