A team of researchers from the Faculty of Life Sciences at The University of Manchester can now confirm that the existence of DNA in amber fossils is highly unlikely.
The team led by amber expert Dr David Penney and co-ordinated by ancient DNA expert Professor Terry Brown used highly-sensitive 'next generation' sequencing techniques - the most advance type of DNA sequencing - on insects in copal, the sub-fossilized resin precursor of amber.
The research was conducted wearing full forensic suits in the dedicated ancient DNA facility at The University of Manchester, which comprises a suite of independent, physically isolated laboratories, each with an ultra-filtered air supply maintaining positive displacement pressure and a managed access system.
The team concluded that their inability to detect ancient DNA in relatively young (60 years to 10,600 years old) sub-fossilized insects in copal, despite using sensitive next generation methods, suggests that the potential for DNA survival in resin inclusions is no better, and perhaps worse, than that in air-dried museum insects (from which DNA has been retrieved using similar techniques).
This raises significant doubts about claims of DNA extraction from fossil insects in amber, many millions of years older than copal.
The research has been published in the journal PLOS ONE.
--ANI (Posted on 12-09-2013)