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Biological Dark Matter?

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posted on May, 23 2012 @ 04:39 AM
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I was recently watching some videos from TED, and came across this one.

www.ted.com...


Armed with blood samples, high-tech tools and a small army of fieldworkers, Nathan Wolfe hopes to re-invent pandemic control -- and reveal hidden secrets of the planet's dominant lifeform: the virus.


Around 3:30 into the video, Wolfe begins talking about taking common nasal swaps to check for influenza and how science has developed more sophisticated deep sequencing tools. He goes into how we would see the large amount of genetic information in the sample taken, including your own information, plus bacteria and viruses. That accounts for about 80% of that genetic material taken from the nasal swab.....the other 20%....is something non classified. Mutant stuff. He goes on to say this 20% of unknown material is called biological dark matter. He then goes on to say that if we were looking into our guts....40% to 50% of that material is biological dark matter. Even in the sterile blood, 1 to 2 % of its information is biological dark matter.

After the blood part, he says that at first, these "dark matter" findings were considered mostly artifacts, but as the deep sequencing tools became more advanced, it was determined these previously called "artifacts" were actually mostly a form of life (not all were).

(end of summary of video in link)

Ive always been interested in this type of "thing"...so to call it. Discovering stuff previously unknown. How much do we really actually know about our own bodies? How much of me is really "human" and not bacteria/virus. What if there's something else out there that we cant classify as bacteria/virus?

I just thought I would share this because it made me think....how much do we really even know about what goes on in our own bodies?

I also decided to do a search on google for "biological dark matter" and came up with this article.

findarticles.com...


It started with worms that just would not grow up. In the early 1990s, Victor Ambros and his colleagues were conducting a gene hunt. In particular, they were searching for the gene that was mutated in a perplexing strain of Caenorhabditis elegans, the small nematode whose development many biologists study.



In normal strains, worms pass through four larval stages as they mature into fertile adults. But members of the mutant strain get stuck at the first stage. They would molt, but instead of moving on to the second larval stage, they simply repeated the first stage. The larvae kept growing larger but never became full-fledged adults.



Ambros' team painstakingly homed in on the gene responsible by adding pieces of DNA from normal C. elegans back into the mutant worms. If a DNA sequence restored full development, it presumably harbored a working copy of the gene that's defective in the mutants, reasoned the investigators. In 1993 at Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, N.H., the hard work of Ambros and his colleagues paid off with the elusive gene's discovery.



The story had a surprise ending, too. Unlike most genes, the one identified by Ambros' group doesn't encode a protein. It spawns a small molecule of RNA--a chemical relative of DNA--that somehow turns off other genes that play a role in worm development.


Genetics....I dont think I will ever understand it.




posted on May, 23 2012 @ 04:49 AM
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Originally posted by buni11687

Genetics....I dont think I will ever understand it.


You and me both, brother.

There's a lot to the world and the universe we will never understand.
edit on 23-5-2012 by Holodomor because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 23 2012 @ 05:44 AM
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reply to post by buni11687
 


So what is it? If there is such a large percentage of "dark matter" in a nasal sample, why hasn't anyone classified it yet? This seems wrong, in that any scientist finding something new wants to either name it, classify it, or publish. So it's hard to believe that something so prevalent hasn't been already analyzed and explained.



posted on May, 23 2012 @ 06:14 AM
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Isn't biological dark matter, melanin?

2nd



posted on May, 23 2012 @ 06:44 AM
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Originally posted by NewerBeing
Isn't biological dark matter, melanin?

2nd


DO HO HO HO

I see what you did there...clever clever.



posted on May, 23 2012 @ 07:00 AM
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reply to post by buni11687
 

Please accept a star and flag purely for your courteous and thoughtful decision to summarize the content of the video to which you linked. A very lucid summary it was, too.

This isn't really an area of interest of mine, so I know next to nothing about it. It was my impression that most living species on Earth, particularly the microscopic ones, are unsurveyed and unclassified, and that many are altogether unknown. I suppose all these strangers to science qualify as biological dark matter. We may have a few surprises if we ever get to the point where almost everything is classified; I wonder, for example, whether we shall then discover that new species evolve from old ones on a continuous basis and with great rapidity. I rather think we shall.

This planet is literally riddled with life. There's bacteria in bedrock, bacteria floating at the very edge of space and bacteria everywhere in between. Craig Venter says a litre of seawater can contain a billion separate genomes. Only a very tiny proportion of those organisms are known to science.

Some of the 'dark matter' is a lot bigger than that, though. Who knows what monsters swim in the pelagic deeps? And it was only a few years ago that a new large mammal, some kind of ruminant, was discovered in the forests of Laos. Earth has many surprises in store for us yet.

Thanks for bringing up an unusual and intriguing topic.



posted on May, 23 2012 @ 07:37 AM
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Originally posted by buni11687
What if there's something else out there that we cant classify as bacteria/virus?

Been known for many decades already that there are at least 3 domains of life: Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukarya. And then there are viruses. The three domain divide comes from the fact that there are three distinct types of small ribosomal RNA genes. Lately, largely due to metagenomics datasets, there has been talk about a 4th domain of life, but the evidence is inconclusive. See also this
edit on 23-5-2012 by rhinoceros because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 23 2012 @ 09:52 AM
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Great post/thread and very interesting.

I do have a little issue with them calling it "biological dark matter" just to jump on the science band wagon though. It's going to cause a LOT of confusion for folks that aren't science oriented. They have some major issues differentiating between biological and astronomical already, so the ones who only "think" they know what they're doing are going to be more beligerant

....I only bring this up due to another post where somebody thought dark matter was another form of water and it took forever to get some of the posters to understand and some still don't (The OP did realize it quickly and easily after a simple explanation). The astronomical dark matter is made up of sub atomic particles, the biological dark matter (or what the speaker calls it) does have a molecular structure, just not a protien or substance that we're familiar with yet.
Sorry, just gave me a flashback and wanted to vent about the chosen vernacular a little


Oh, and very awesome synopsis!
edit on 23-5-2012 by PurpleChiten because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 23 2012 @ 03:51 PM
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I was gonna make a thread on this vid when I watched it but never got around to it.

If there is another form of life out there imagine how primitive we will look to the future humans. The way most look down on humans who didn't realize germs caused disease.



posted on May, 23 2012 @ 04:26 PM
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Well I'm not too sure about the genetic aspects, but in order to prove that black matter *does* exist in peoples heads, you just need to read certain threads on these very message boards.

An interesting side note .. the human body is more or less a conglomerate of myriads of different bacteria that started cooperating millions of years ago, existing as single cells prior to that. We're something like the "united cells of bacteria" beings.



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