According to wikipedia by the formation of oil there are a lot of organic materials present including DNA. Is it possible that this DNA is conserved somehow for millions of years?

  • $\begingroup$ I don't see DNA mentioned at all in either the petroleum or kerogen articles... $\endgroup$ – MattDMo Apr 28 '15 at 17:32
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    $\begingroup$ I'm sure if you look hard enough you could probably find some nucleotides or other components of DNA/RNA. Finding intact nucleic acids would be very hard, even under ideal conditions, DNA doesn't last forever, and this oil has been under high heat and pressure for a long time. $\endgroup$ – user137 Apr 28 '15 at 17:39
  • $\begingroup$ @MattDMo Organic material = DNA along with other biomolecules. $\endgroup$ – inf3rno Apr 28 '15 at 18:05
  • $\begingroup$ @user137 What about the kerogen? It was not under high heat... $\endgroup$ – inf3rno Apr 28 '15 at 18:05
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    $\begingroup$ @inf3rno Your odds may be better there, but I don't know how long DNA lasts in an anaerobic sludge. Depends on pH, temperature, residual nuclease activity, etc. And the DNA decay would probably begin by nicking and cutting the long DNA into shorter and shorter strands. Eventually, even if you could pull DNA out of the sludge, it would be too short to do much with. That being said, some work has been done to sequence well preserved DNA from Neanderthals and other ancient organisms, though these samples were much more recent than oil and kept under better conditions. $\endgroup$ – user137 Apr 28 '15 at 18:22

According to Live Science, the temperatures are in the 120 to 300 degree-Fahrenheit range (48-148 degree-Celcius) when crude oil is forming. DNA in "dry" conditions completely degrades at temperatures above 190 degree-Celcius. Which means that there could be DNA in the oil itself if there are some surviving cells, however, outside the cells there are DNases which will chew up DNA.

So the DNA they are talking about is like the DNA studied by Gong et. al, where they're looking at the live bacteria in the crude oil, which would be descendants of the bacteria that was around when the oil first began its degradation from organic material.

On both NCBI and PLOS ONE there appear to be a number of papers studying the bacterial growth in crude oil. Which would be why you may have seen articles about DNA in the oil.

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  • $\begingroup$ This does not answer the question with a yes or a no. $\endgroup$ – March Ho Jun 1 '15 at 20:38
  • $\begingroup$ The thing is there is no REAL answer to what DNA is actually being looked at. It is possible that there is DNA in the oil itself is being looked at but most likely they are looking at the DNA of bacteria that's growing in the oil @MarchHo. $\endgroup$ – SolarLunix Jun 1 '15 at 20:48

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