Related topics: dna sequences

Ancient plague genomes reveal the origins of the Black Death

In 1347, plague first entered the Mediterranean via trade ships transporting goods from the territories of the Golden Horde in the Black Sea. The disease then disseminated across Europe, the Middle East and northern Africa ...

First Pompeiian human genome sequenced

The first successfully sequenced human genome from an individual who died in Pompeii, Italy, after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE is presented this week in a study published in Scientific Reports. Prior to this, ...

Exploring the origins of molecular paleontology

If "Jurassic Park" fueled your interest in dinosaurs, genetics, and all things ancient, you aren't alone. There's an entire field dedicated to looking for ancient DNA—molecular paleontology—that predates Michael Crichton's ...

Exploring ancient tuberculosis transmission chains

Tuberculosis (TB) is the second most common cause of death worldwide by an infectious pathogen (after Covid-19), but many aspects of its long history with humans remain controversial. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute ...

What medieval skeletons tell us about modern day pandemics

A young woman walks Trondheim's streets 800 years ago, carrying a secret in her body. It's 150 years before the plague—the Black Death—but this young women is sick with a disease that no one thought was found in Europe ...

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Ancient DNA

Ancient DNA can be loosely described as any DNA recovered from biological samples that have not been preserved specifically for later DNA analyses. Examples include the analysis of DNA recovered from archaeological and historical skeletal material, mummified tissues, archival collections of non-frozen medical specimens, preserved plant remains, ice and permafrost cores, Holocene plankton in marine and lake sediments, and so on. Unlike modern genetic analyses, ancient DNA studies are characterised by low quality DNA. This places limits on what analyses can achieve. Furthermore, due to degradation of the DNA molecules, a process which correlates loosely with factors such as time, temperature and presence of free water, upper limits exist beyond which no DNA is deemed likely to survive. Current estimates suggest that in optimal environments, i.e environments which are very cold, such as permafrost or ice, an upper limit of max 1 Million years exists. As such, early studies that reported recovery of much older DNA, for example, from Cretaceous dinosaur remains, have been proven to be wrong, with results stemming from sample or extract contamination, as opposed to authentic extracted DNA.

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