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RE: Amber May Release Ancient Disease-Causing Microbes
>Isn't this fear a bit on the paranoid side? I'm not intending to be insulting
>here, just want to make a point.
>I would imagine that any bacteria trapped in amber, or any other substance, may
>escape regardless of human intervention. Amber will erode if exposed, it can
>break. Human activity may make it more likely, but does it really pose a
>that would otherwise not exist?
I think the main cause for concern here is not the acidental release of
(probably) non-viable bacterial spores but the possibility of active human
intervantion. By this I mean the risk of introducing sequences of ancient
DNA into modern strains by experimentation and producing a new organism.
This poses a danger because it bypasses the usal "arms race" between enemies
and prey. Usually, small evolutionary mutations within bacteria give them an
advantage over their host which can respond by evolving "counter-measures"
such as more effective immune responses. If the enemy (bacteria) are given
what may be a huge advantage by removing the relatively slow evolutionary
process then they may simply become too effecient too quickly for other
organism to defend themselves.
Stuart Kelly (Stuart.Kelly@bedford.waii.com) Tel: (0234)-224403