Scientists find genetic record of earthquakes in organism’s DNA

Scientists find genetic record of earthquakes in organism’s DNA

In a paper that was recently published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, scientists have stated that the DNA of bull kelp that grows along the shore of the South Island of New Zealand, house a genetic record of earthquakes that occurred over 800 years ago. During this earthquake, the ocean floor rose which wiped out numerous inhabitants to make way for new genetic species.

The findings of the report suggest that comparing the genes of some organisms can reveal the damage that occurred to the environment all those years ago. New Zealand is one of the best places to gather this data as it lies atop a large nest of fault lines.

Researchers started pondering what happens to the kelp in the ocean when a massive earthquake his four years ago. It caused a fault near the town of Kaikoura to extend nearly 2 metres out of the water. Jon Waters, who is a professor of Zoology at the University of Otago, along with his colleagues were some of those researchers who first began to ask the question.

Kelp that was pushed above the surface of the water died pretty quickly, but with real estate in the ecosystem below, new organisms were able to flourish. Due to the nature of how kelp grows, it lines the ocean floor and gives very little room for newcomers to move into the neighbourhood.

According to the data gathered from the organisms there was an earthquake similar to the one 6 years ago, 800 years ago. It happened off the coastline near Dunedin where researchers took samples from the kelp that spanned over 60 miles. While the kelp looked identical to the others, the DNA gathered indicates that they are entirely different from each other due to the destruction that happened all those years ago.