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Earthquake in the Genomes

Echoes of an ancient earthquake lurk within the genomes of kelp off the coast of New Zealand, according to the New York Times

Researchers from the University of Otago sampled kelp from along a shoreline that experienced a large earthquake about 800 years ago that raised the coastline by two to three meters. As the Times notes, the researchers suspected that this sudden shift may have stranded some kelp above the water's edge but also opened up new areas below the water for colonization.

As they report in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, researchers led by Otago's Jonathan Waters analyzed the genomes of kelp in the region surrounding where the earthquake occurred. The kelp right by where the uplift occurred differed from their neighbors. "We were just gobsmacked when we looked," Waters tells the Times. "We could see where the uplift zone was just by looking at the genetics."

Their findings further suggest limited mixing between the different kelp populations, which  may reflect a "winner takes all" effect in which the first kelp to populate that new stretch has been able to prevail over others, the Times adds.