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Vietnamese researchers extract DNA from ancient animal bone for first time

By Nguyen Xuan   January 9, 2021 | 02:00 am PT
Vietnamese researchers extract DNA from ancient animal bone for first time
Samples and relics are retrieved from a volcanic cave in Krong No District, Dak Nong Province. Photo by VnExpress.
A research team from the Central Highlands science program has managed to extract DNA from ancient animal bones for the first time in Vietnam.

The three-year research, part of the 2016-2020 Central Highlands Program, a scientific program entailing dozens of scientific missions to develop the region’s socio-economic situation, extracted the DNA of an animal that lived thousands of years from a bone found in a volcanic cave in Krong No District, Dak Nong Province, the team said on Friday.

Duong Van Tang, a member of the team, which is from the Vietnam National Museum of Nature, said gene bank analysis of the bone sample initially showed it was human.

But apparently the sample was contaminated with someone’s DNA during the expedition, he said.

So the team used a gene analysis technique based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) that detects even tiny amounts of genes in a bone sample and is capable of telling animal and human genes apart, he said.

The team succeeded in extracting the animal’s DNA, which revealed it was a mountain goat that lived 4,000-7,000 years ago, he added.

La The Phuc, head of the research project, said Vietnam never had any particular method to extract DNA from ancient bones since the trace amount of genes left was often too little.

But the technique used this time could serve as the foundation for future DNA extraction, he said.

The team also charted 22 volcanic caves and found prehistoric relics in five of them. They also discovered 30 new species in the caves, including scorpion species endemic to volcanic caves in Krong No, he said.

The team would continue its expedition to caves to evaluate their safety, and its findings would help decide on the construction of museums at the Dak Nong archaeological sites, he added.

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