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Preservation of fossil biopolymeric structures: conclusive immunological evidence

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningfagfællebedømt

Immunological assays are highly favoured for their ability to readily discriminate subtle structural differences in complex biopolymers, such as proteins and polysaccharides. Immunological reactions previously reported with extracts from biominerals at least 70 Myr old have fuelled hopes that such biopolymeric structures can survive the process of fossilization. We have raised antibodies against biopolymers from a range of Recent brachiopod shells to reconstruct a fine-grained pattern of phylogenetic relationships. Using the same antibodies, the phylogenetic affinities of fossil relatives were tested. Immunological reaction patterns for Plio-Pleistocene shells were essentially identical to the patterns of modern shells (although the breadth of reactivity was narrowed) and entirely consistent with current systematic interpretations. Older samples (>4-21 Myr) were immunologically reactive, but failed to satisfy the criterion of systematic specificity. Our results provide an unequivocal demonstration that original macromolecular structures capable of yielding systematic information are preserved and accessible for immunological analysis for at least two million years. Non-specific reactions observed with the older material may relate in part to formation of mineral-induced diagenetic determinants (MIDDs).

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Vol/bind55
Udgave nummer8
Sider (fra-til)2253-2257
Antal sider5
ISSN0016-7037
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 1991
Eksternt udgivetJa

ID: 232095273