DNA found in fossil bone crystal clusters

Sep 12, 2005

Israeli researchers report discovering crystal clusters in both modern and fossil bones can contain well-preserved DNA.

Ancient DNA preserved in bones is valuable in studying the genetics and evolution of animals, including humans. However, DNA degradation and the potential of contamination make obtaining reliable samples difficult, especially in humans.

But Michal Salamon and colleagues at the Weizmann Institute of Science, in Rehovot, Israel; found crystal aggregates -- small mineral pockets formed when neighboring bone crystals fuse -- can preserve organic matter in a better state than the rest of the bone.

The scientists said the phenomenon occurs partly because such aggregates are resistant to degradation by oxidizing agents. They compared DNA extracted from either isolated crystal aggregates or from untreated whole bone powder, prepared from eight different modern and fossil bones.

Longer and better preserved DNA molecules, with fewer contaminants, were recovered from the aggregates compared with whole powder. The authors note while all the modern bones contained well-preserved DNA in their aggregates, amplifiable DNA could not be extracted from all the fossilized samples.

The research appears in this week's early, online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Smartphone app used by experimenters to learn more about aspects of morality

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A layered nanostructure held together by DNA

Mar 20, 2014

(Phys.org) —Dreaming up nanostructures that have desirable optical, electronic, or magnetic properties is one thing. Figuring out how to make them is another. A new strategy uses the binding properties ...

Recommended for you

When rulers can't understand the ruled

7 hours ago

Johns Hopkins University political scientists wanted to know if America's unelected officials have enough in common with the people they govern to understand them.

When casualties increased, war coverage became more negative

11 hours ago

As the number of U.S. casualties rose in Afghanistan, reporters filed more stories about the conflict and those articles grew increasingly negative about both the war effort and the military, according to a Penn State researcher. ...

User comments : 0