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Bibliography on: Paleontology Meets Genomics — Sequencing Ancient DNA

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ESP: PubMed Auto Bibliography 27 May 2022 at 01:50 Created: 

Paleontology Meets Genomics — Sequencing Ancient DNA

The ideas behind Jurassic Park have become real, kinda sorta. It is now possible to retrieve and sequence DNA from ancient specimens. Although these sequences are based on poor quality DNA and thus have many inferential steps (i,e, the resulting sequence is not likely to be a perfect replica of the living DNA), the insights to be gained from paleosequentcing are nonetheless great. For example, paleo-sequencing has shown that Neanderthal DNA is sufficiently different from human DNA as to be reasonably considered as coming from a different species.

Created with PubMed® Query: "ancient DNA" OR "ancient genome" OR paleogenetic OR paleogenetics NOT pmcbook NOT ispreviousversion

Citations The Papers (from PubMed®)


RevDate: 2022-05-26

Maróti Z, Neparáczki E, Schütz O, et al (2022)

The genetic origin of Huns, Avars, and conquering Hungarians.

Current biology : CB pii:S0960-9822(22)00732-1 [Epub ahead of print].

Huns, Avars, and conquering Hungarians were migration-period nomadic tribal confederations that arrived in three successive waves in the Carpathian Basin between the 5th and 9th centuries. Based on the historical data, each of these groups are thought to have arrived from Asia, although their exact origin and relation to other ancient and modern populations have been debated. Recently, hundreds of ancient genomes were analyzed from Central Asia, Mongolia, and China, from which we aimed to identify putative source populations for the above-mentioned groups. In this study, we have sequenced 9 Hun, 143 Avar, and 113 Hungarian conquest period samples and identified three core populations, representing immigrants from each period with no recent European ancestry. Our results reveal that this "immigrant core" of both Huns and Avars likely originated in present day Mongolia, and their origin can be traced back to Xiongnus (Asian Huns), as suggested by several historians. On the other hand, the "immigrant core" of the conquering Hungarians derived from an earlier admixture of Mansis, early Sarmatians, and descendants of late Xiongnus. We have also shown that a common "proto-Ugric" gene pool appeared in the Bronze Age from the admixture of Mezhovskaya and Nganasan people, supporting genetic and linguistic data. In addition, we detected shared Hun-related ancestry in numerous Avar and Hungarian conquest period genetic outliers, indicating a genetic link between these successive nomadic groups. Aside from the immigrant core groups, we identified that the majority of the individuals from each period were local residents harboring "native European" ancestry.

RevDate: 2022-05-24

Demarchi B, Stiller J, Grealy A, et al (2022)

Ancient proteins resolve controversy over the identity of Genyornis eggshell.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America [Epub ahead of print].

SignificanceThe controversy over the taxonomic identity of the eggs exploited by Australia's first people around 50,000 y ago is resolved. The birds that laid these eggs are extinct, and distinguishing between two main candidates, a giant flightless "mihirung" Genyornis and a large megapode Progura, had proven impossible using morphological and geochemical methods. Ancient DNA sequencing remains inconclusive because of the age and burial temperature of the eggshell. In contrast, ancient protein sequences recovered from the eggshell enabled estimation of the evolutionary affinity between the egg and a range of extant taxa. The eggs are those of a Galloanseres (a group that includes extinct Dromornithidae, as well as extant landfowl and waterfowl), Genyornis, and not of the megapode (Megapodiidae, crown Galliformes).

RevDate: 2022-05-24

Lopez-Valdivia I, Perkins AC, Schneider HM, et al (2022)

Gradual domestication of root traits in the earliest maize from Tehuacán.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 119(17):e2110245119.

Efforts to understand the phenotypic transition that gave rise to maize from teosinte have mainly focused on the analysis of aerial organs, with little insights into possible domestication traits affecting the root system. Archeological excavations in San Marcos cave (Tehuacán, Mexico) yielded two well-preserved 5,300 to 4,970 calibrated y B.P. specimens (SM3 and SM11) corresponding to root stalks composed of at least five nodes with multiple nodal roots and, in case, a complete embryonic root system. To characterize in detail their architecture and anatomy, we used laser ablation tomography to reconstruct a three-dimensional segment of their nodal roots and a scutellar node, revealing exquisite preservation of the inner tissue and cell organization and providing reliable morphometric parameters for cellular characteristics of the stele and cortex. Whereas SM3 showed multiple cortical sclerenchyma typical of extant maize, the scutellar node of the SM11 embryonic root system completely lacked seminal roots, an attribute found in extant teosinte and in two specific maize mutants: root with undetectable meristem1 (rum1) and rootless concerning crown and seminal roots (rtcs). Ancient DNA sequences of SM10—a third San Marcos specimen of equivalent age to SM3 and SM11—revealed the presence of mutations in the transcribed sequence of both genes, offering the possibility for some of these mutations to be involved in the lack of seminal roots of the ancient specimens. Our results indicate that the root system of the earliest maize from Tehuacán resembled teosinte in traits important for maize drought adaptation.

RevDate: 2022-05-20
CmpDate: 2022-05-20

Slavin P, F Sebbane (2022)

Emergence and spread of ancestral Yersinia pestis in Late-Neolithic and Bronze-Age Eurasia, ca. 5,000 to 1,500 y B.P.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 119(21):e2204044119.

RevDate: 2022-05-19

Ariano B, Mattiangeli V, Breslin EM, et al (2022)

Ancient Maltese genomes and the genetic geography of Neolithic Europe.

Current biology : CB pii:S0960-9822(22)00705-9 [Epub ahead of print].

Archaeological consideration of maritime connectivity has ranged from a biogeographical perspective that considers the sea as a barrier to a view of seaways as ancient highways that facilitate exchange. Our results illustrate the former. We report three Late Neolithic human genomes from the Mediterranean island of Malta that are markedly enriched for runs of homozygosity, indicating inbreeding in their ancestry and an effective population size of only hundreds, a striking illustration of maritime isolation in this agricultural society. In the Late Neolithic, communities across mainland Europe experienced a resurgence of hunter-gatherer ancestry, pointing toward the persistence of different ancestral strands that subsequently admixed. This is absent in the Maltese genomes, giving a further indication of their genomic insularity. Imputation of genome-wide genotypes in our new and 258 published ancient individuals allowed shared identity-by-descent segment analysis, giving a fine-grained genetic geography of Neolithic Europe. This highlights the differentiating effects of seafaring Mediterranean expansion and also island colonization, including that of Ireland, Britain, and Orkney. These maritime effects contrast profoundly with a lack of migratory barriers in the establishment of Central European farming populations from Anatolia and the Balkans.

RevDate: 2022-05-17

Childebayeva A, Rohrlach AB, Barquera R, et al (2022)

Population Genetics and Signatures of Selection in Early Neolithic European Farmers.

Molecular biology and evolution pii:6586604 [Epub ahead of print].

Human expansion in the course of the Neolithic transition in western Eurasia has been one of the major topics in ancient DNA (aDNA) research in the last ten years. Multiple studies have shown that the spread of agriculture and animal husbandry from the Near East across Europe was accompanied by large-scale human expansions. Moreover, changes in subsistence and migration associated with the Neolithic transition have been hypothesized to involve genetic adaptation. Here we present high quality genome-wide data from the Linear Pottery Culture (LBK) site Derenburg Meerenstieg II (DER) (N=32 individuals) in Central Germany. Population genetic analyses show that the DER individuals carried predominantly Anatolian Neolithic-like ancestry and a very limited degree of local hunter-gatherer admixture, similar to other early European farmers. Increasing the LBK cohort size to ∼100 individuals allowed us to perform various frequency- and haplotype-based analyses to investigate signatures of selection associated with changes following the adoption of the Neolithic lifestyle. In addition, we developed a new method called AIMLESS (Admixture-informed Maximum-likelihood Estimation for Selection Scans) that allowed us test for selection signatures in an admixture-aware fashion. Focusing on the intersection of results from these selection scans, we identified various loci associated with immune function (JAK1, HLA-DQB1) and metabolism (LMF1, LEPR, SORBS1), as well as skin color (SLC24A5, CD82) and folate synthesis (MTHFR, NBPF3). Our findings shed light on the evolutionary pressures, such as infectious disease and changing diet, that were faced by the early farmers of Western Eurasia.

RevDate: 2022-05-16

Zhang X, Yang L, Zhao X, et al (2022)

The complete mitochondrial genome of an ancient cattle (Bos taurus) from Taosi site, China, and its phylogenetic assessment.

Mitochondrial DNA. Part B, Resources, 7(5):804-806 pii:2073834.

The complete mitochondrial genome (mitogenome) of one 4000-years-old cattle from Taosi site was determined by high throughput sequencing. The mitogenome was 16,336 bp in length and contained 13 protein-coding genes, two rRNA genes, and 22 tRNA genes. The protein-coding genes had two types of start codons (ATG and ATA) and three types of stop codons (TAA, TAG, and AGA). The overall base composition of the genome was 33%-A, 27%-T, 26%-C, 14%-G. The matrilineal genealogical analysis based on mitogenome revealed that the 4000-years-old cattle from Taosi site was domestic taurine cattle. In this study, we not only reported a complete mitogenome for a 4000-years-old bovine remain from the middle Yellow River region but also provided the mitogenomic evidence for the close phylogenetic relationship between the early taurine cattle in Northern China and modern domestic cattle.

RevDate: 2022-05-16

Sehrawat JS, Agrawal S, Sankhyan D, et al (2022)

Pinpointing the Geographic Origin of 165-Year-Old Human Skeletal Remains Found in Punjab, India: Evidence From Mitochondrial DNA and Stable Isotope Analysis.

Frontiers in genetics, 13:813934 pii:813934.

In 2014, 157 years after the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, several unidentified human skeletons were discovered in an abandoned well at Ajnala, Punjab. The most prevailing hypothesis suggested them as Indian soldiers who mutinied during the Indian uprising of 1857. However, there is an intense debate on their geographic affinity. Therefore, to pinpoint their area of origin, we have successfully isolated DNA from cementum-rich material of 50 good-quality random teeth samples and analyzed mtDNA haplogroups. In addition to that, we analyzed 85 individuals for oxygen isotopes (δ18O values). The mtDNA haplogroup distribution and clustering pattern rejected the local ancestry and indicated their genetic link with the populations living east of Punjab. In addition, the oxygen isotope analysis (δ18O values) from archaeological skeletal remains corroborated the molecular data and suggested the closest possible geographical affinity of these skeletal remains toward the eastern part of India, largely covering the Gangetic plain region. The data generated from this study are expected to expand our understanding of the ancestry and population affinity of martyr soldiers.

RevDate: 2022-05-18
CmpDate: 2022-05-17

Heraclides A, E Fernández-Domínguez (2022)

Mitochondrial DNA Consensus Calling and Quality Filtering for Constructing Ancient Human Mitogenomes: Comparison of Two Widely Applied Methods.

International journal of molecular sciences, 23(9):.

Retrieving high-quality endogenous ancient DNA (aDNA) poses several challenges, including low molecular copy number, high rates of fragmentation, damage at read termini, and potential presence of exogenous contaminant DNA. All these factors complicate a reliable reconstruction of consensus aDNA sequences in reads from high-throughput sequencing platforms. Here, we report findings from a thorough evaluation of two alternative tools (ANGSD and schmutzi) aimed at overcoming these issues and constructing high-quality ancient mitogenomes. Raw genomic data (BAM/FASTQ) from a total of 17 previously published whole ancient human genomes ranging from the 14th to the 7th millennium BCE were retrieved and mitochondrial consensus sequences were reconstructed using different quality filters, with their accuracy measured and compared. Moreover, the influence of different sequence parameters (number of reads, sequenced bases, mean coverage, and rate of deamination and contamination) as predictors of derived sequence quality was evaluated. Complete mitogenomes were successfully reconstructed for all ancient samples, and for the majority of them, filtering substantially improved mtDNA consensus calling and haplogroup prediction. Overall, the schmutzi pipeline, which estimates and takes into consideration exogenous contamination, appeared to have the edge over the much faster and user-friendly alternative method (ANGSD) in moderate to high coverage samples (>1,000,000 reads). ANGSD, however, through its read termini trimming filter, showed better capabilities in calling the consensus sequence from low-quality samples. Among all the predictors of overall sample quality examined, the strongest correlation was found for the available number of sequence reads and bases. In the process, we report a previously unassigned haplogroup (U3b) for an Early Chalcolithic individual from Southern Anatolia/Northern Levant.

RevDate: 2022-05-16

Ávila-Arcos MC, de la Fuente Castro C, Nieves-Colón MA, et al (2022)

Recommendations for Sustainable Ancient DNA Research in the Global South: Voices From a New Generation of Paleogenomicists.

Frontiers in genetics, 13:880170.

Paleogenomics - the study of ancient genomes - has made significant contributions, especially to our understanding of the evolutionary history of humans. This knowledge influx has been a direct result of the coupling of next-generation sequencing with improved methods for DNA recovery and analysis of ancient samples. The appeal of ancient DNA studies in the popular media coupled with the trend for such work to be published in "high impact" journals has driven the amassing of ancestral human remains from global collections, often with limited to no engagement or involvement of local researchers and communities. This practice in the paleogenomics literature has led to limited representation of researchers from the Global South at the research design and subsequent stages. Additionally, Indigenous and descendant communities are often alienated from popular and academic narratives that both involve and impact them, sometimes adversely. While some countries have safeguards against 'helicopter science', such as federally regulated measures to protect their biocultural heritage, there is variable oversight in others with regard to sampling and exportation of human remains for destructive research, and differing requirements for accountability or consultation with local researchers and communities. These disparities reveal stark contrasts and gaps in regional policies that lend themselves to persistent colonial practices. While essential critiques and conversations in this sphere are taking place, these are primarily guided through the lens of US-based heritage legislation such as the Native American Graves and Protection Act (NAGPRA). In this article, we aim to expand the scope of ongoing conversations by taking into account diverse regional contexts and challenges drawing from our own research experiences in the field of paleogenomics. We emphasize that true collaborations involve knowledge sharing, capacity building, mutual respect, and equitable participation, all of which take time and the implementation of sustainable research methods; amass-and-publish strategy is simply incompatible with this ethos.

RevDate: 2022-05-16

Buisan R, Moriano J, Andirkó A, et al (2022)

A Brain Region-Specific Expression Profile for Genes Within Large Introgression Deserts and Under Positive Selection in Homo sapiens.

Frontiers in cell and developmental biology, 10:824740.

Analyses of ancient DNA from extinct hominins have provided unique insights into the complex evolutionary history of Homo sapiens, intricately related to that of the Neanderthals and the Denisovans as revealed by several instances of admixture events. These analyses have also allowed the identification of introgression deserts: genomic regions in our species that are depleted of "archaic" haplotypes. The presence of genes like FOXP2 in these deserts has been taken to be suggestive of brain-related functional differences between Homo species. Here, we seek a deeper characterization of these regions and the specific expression trajectories of genes within them, taking into account signals of positive selection in our lineage. Analyzing publicly available transcriptomic data from the human brain at different developmental stages, we found that structures outside the cerebral neocortex, in particular the cerebellum, the striatum and the mediodorsal nucleus of the thalamus show the most divergent transcriptomic profiles when considering genes within large introgression deserts and under positive selection.

RevDate: 2022-05-13

Callaway E (2022)

Ancient DNA maps 'dawn of farming'.

RevDate: 2022-05-18

Rath K, Käßner A, Melisch C, et al (2022)

Genetic and isotope analysis of a triple burial from medieval St. Peter's cemetery in Cölln/Berlin.

Forensic science international. Genetics, 59:102718 pii:S1872-4973(22)00059-X [Epub ahead of print].

The German capital Berlin originates from the two medieval settlements Berlin and Cölln on either side of the river Spree. Whereas Berlin is world famous, there is very little awareness of former Cölln. From 2007-2009, during excavations of the earliest cemetery of this forgotten medieval town; 3,126 graves were discovered containing the remains of 3,717 individuals. Amongst those graves was an unusual triple burial. This grave was exceptional due to the relative postures of the skeletons and their extensive facial injuries. Here we present genetic and isotope data for this grave. Genetic results confirmed all of them as biological male individuals and ruled out their biological kinship. Combining genetic ancestry information with strontium isotope data we furthermore determined that two of the men most likely originated from the Berlin-Brandenburg region, whereas a more distant origin of the third individual can be debated.

RevDate: 2022-05-11

Cai D, Zhu S, Gong M, et al (2022)

Radiocarbon and genomic evidence for the survival of Equus Sussemionus until the late Holocene.

eLife, 11: pii:73346 [Epub ahead of print].

The exceptionally-rich fossil record available for the equid family has provided textbook examples of macroevolutionary changes. Horses, asses and zebras represent three extant subgenera of Equus lineage, while the Sussemionus subgenus is another remarkable Equus lineage ranging from North America to Ethiopia in the Pleistocene. We sequenced 26 archaeological specimens from northern China in the Holocene that could be assigned morphologically and genetically to Equus ovodovi, a species representative of Sussemionus. We present the first high-quality complete genome of the Sussemionus lineage, which was sequenced to 13.4× depth-of-coverage. Radiocarbon dating demonstrates that this lineage survived until ~3,500 years ago, despite continued demographic collapse during the Last Glacial Maximum and the great human expansion in East Asia. We also confirmed the Equus phylogenetic tree, and found that Sussemionus diverged from the ancestor of non-caballine equids ~2.3-2.7 Million years ago and possibly remained affected by secondary gene flow post-divergence. We found that the small genetic diversity, rather than enhanced inbreeding, limited the species' chances of survival. Our work adds to the growing literature illustrating how ancient DNA can inform on extinction dynamics and the long-term resilience of species surviving in cryptic population pockets.

RevDate: 2022-05-12
CmpDate: 2022-05-12

Verry AJF, Mitchell KJ, NJ Rawlence (2022)

Genetic evidence for post-glacial expansion from a southern refugium in the eastern moa (Emeus crassus).

Biology letters, 18(5):20220013.

Cycles of glacial expansion and contraction throughout the Pleistocene drove increases and decreases, respectively, in the geographical range and population size of many animal species. Genetic data have revealed that during glacial maxima the distribution of many Eurasian animals was restricted to small refugial areas, from which species expanded to reoccupy parts of their former range as the climate warmed. It has been suggested that the extinct eastern moa (Emeus crassus)-a large, flightless bird from New Zealand-behaved analogously during glacial maxima, possibly surviving only in a restricted area of lowland habitat in the southern South Island of New Zealand during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). However, previous studies have lacked the power and geographical sampling to explicitly test this hypothesis using genetic data. Here we analyse 46 ancient mitochondrial genomes from Late Pleistocene and Holocene bones of the eastern moa from across their post-LGM distribution. Our results are consistent with a post-LGM increase in the population size and genetic diversity of eastern moa. We also demonstrate that genetic diversity was higher in eastern moa from the southern extent of their range, supporting the hypothesis that they expanded from a single glacial refugium following the LGM.

RevDate: 2022-05-16

Fleskes RE, Bader AC, Tsosie KS, et al (2022)

Ethical Guidance in Human Paleogenomics: New and Ongoing Perspectives.

Annual review of genomics and human genetics [Epub ahead of print].

Over the past two decades, the study of ancient genomes from Ancestral humans, or human paleogenomic research, has expanded rapidly in both scale and scope. Ethical discourse has subsequently emerged to address issues of social responsibility and scientific robusticity in conducting research. Here, we highlight and contextualize the primary sources of professional ethical guidance aimed at paleogenomic researchers. We describe the tension among existing guidelines, while addressing core issues such as consent, destructive research methods, and data access and management. Currently, there is a dissonance between guidelines that focus on scientific outcomes and those that hold scientists accountable to stakeholder communities, such as descendants. Thus, we provide additional tools to navigate the complexities of ancient DNA research while centering engagement with stakeholder communities in the scientific process. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics, Volume 23 is October 2022. Please see for revised estimates.

RevDate: 2022-05-10

Segawa T, Yonezawa T, Mori H, et al (2022)

Paleogenomics reveals independent and hybrid origins of two morphologically distinct wolf lineages endemic to Japan.

Current biology : CB pii:S0960-9822(22)00603-0 [Epub ahead of print].

Little is known about the spatiotemporal dynamics of gray wolves in the Pleistocene across low-latitude regions of Eurasia. In Japan, a small-bodied endemic subspecies of Japanese wolves existed and went extinct in the early 1900s. The fossil record indicates that a giant wolf, which reached 70 cm in body height, inhabited Japan during the Pleistocene, but its evolutionary relationship, if any, with the Japanese wolf remains uncertain. Here, to reveal the genetic origin of the Japanese wolf, we analyzed ancient DNA from remains (recovered in Japan) of one Pleistocene wolf that lived 35,000 years ago and one Holocene wolf from 5,000 years ago. The analysis of the mitochondrial DNA revealed that the Pleistocene wolf was not part of the Japanese wolf clade but rather an earlier-diverging lineage. The analysis of the nuclear DNA of the Holocene Japanese wolf revealed that it was an admixture of the Japanese Pleistocene wolf and continental wolf lineages. These findings suggest that the Japanese wolf originated via waves of colonization of multiple Pleistocene wolf populations at 57-35 and 37-14 ka, respectively, followed by interpopulation hybridization.

RevDate: 2022-05-12
CmpDate: 2022-05-10

Malyarchuk AB, Andreeva TV, Kuznetsova IL, et al (2022)

Genomics of Ancient Pathogens: First Advances and Prospects.

Biochemistry. Biokhimiia, 87(3):242-258.

Paleogenomics is one of the urgent and promising areas of interdisciplinary research in the today's world science. New genomic methods of ancient DNA (aDNA) analysis, such as next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies, make it possible not only to obtain detailed genetic information about historical and prehistoric human populations, but also to study individual microbial and viral pathogens and microbiomes from different ancient and historical objects. Studies of aDNA of pathogens by reconstructing their genomes have so far yielded complete sequences of the ancient pathogens that played significant role in the history of the world: Yersinia pestis (plague), Variola virus (smallpox), Vibrio cholerae (cholera), HBV (hepatitis B virus), as well as the equally important endemic human infectious agents: Mycobacterium tuberculosis (tuberculosis), Mycobacterium leprae (leprosy), and Treponema pallidum (syphilis). Genomic data from these pathogens complemented the information previously obtained by paleopathologists and allowed not only to identify pathogens from the past pandemics, but also to recognize the pathogen lineages that are now extinct, to refine chronology of the pathogen appearance in human populations, and to reconstruct evolutionary history of the pathogens that are still relevant to public health today. In this review, we describe state-of-the-art genomic research of the origins and evolution of many ancient pathogens and viruses and examine mechanisms of the emergence and spread of the ancient infections in the mankind history.

RevDate: 2022-05-08
CmpDate: 2022-05-06

Gelabert P, Schmidt RW, Fernandes DM, et al (2022)

Genomes from Verteba cave suggest diversity within the Trypillians in Ukraine.

Scientific reports, 12(1):7242.

The transition to agriculture occurred relatively late in Eastern Europe, leading researchers to debate whether it was a gradual, interactive process or a colonisation event. In the forest and forest-steppe regions of Ukraine, farming appeared during the fifth millennium BCE, associated with the Cucuteni-Trypillia cultural complex (CTCC, ~ 5000-3000 BCE). Across Europe, the Neolithisation process was highly variable across space and over time. Here, we investigate the population dynamics of early agriculturalists from the eastern forest-steppe region based on the analyses of 20 ancient genomes from the site of Verteba Cave (3935-825 cal BCE). Results reveal that the CTCC individuals' ancestry is related to both western hunter-gatherers and Near Eastern farmers, has no local ancestry associated with Ukrainian Neolithic hunter-gatherers and has steppe ancestry. An Early Bronze Age individual has an ancestry profile related to the Yamnaya expansions but with 20% of ancestry related to the other Trypillian individuals, which suggests admixture between the Trypillians and the incoming populations carrying steppe-related ancestry. A Late Bronze Age individual dated to 980-825 cal BCE has a genetic profile indicating affinity to Beaker-related populations, detected close to 1000 years after the end of the Bell Beaker phenomenon during the third millennium BCE.

RevDate: 2022-05-05
CmpDate: 2022-05-05

Martínez-García L, Ferrari G, Hufthammer AK, et al (2022)

Ancient DNA reveals a southern presence of the Northeast Arctic cod during the Holocene.

Biology letters, 18(5):20220021.

Climate change has been implicated in an increased number of distributional shifts of marine species during the last century. Nonetheless, it is unclear whether earlier climatic fluctuations had similar impacts. We use ancient DNA to investigate the long-term spawning distribution of the Northeast Arctic cod (skrei) which performs yearly migrations from the Barents Sea towards spawning grounds along the Norwegian coast. The distribution of these spawning grounds has shifted northwards during the last century, which is thought to be associated with food availability and warming temperatures. We genetically identify skrei specimens from Ruskeneset in west Norway, an archaeological site located south of their current spawning range. Remarkably, 14C analyses date these specimens to the late Holocene, when temperatures were warmer than present-day conditions. Our results either suggest that temperature is not the only driver influencing the spawning distribution of Atlantic cod, or could be indicative of uncertainty in palaeoclimate reconstructions in this region. Regardless, our findings highlight the utility of aDNA to reconstruct the historical distribution of economically important fish populations and reveal the complexity of long-term ecological interactions in the marine environment.

RevDate: 2022-05-09

Yarlagadda K, Zachwieja AJ, de Flamingh A, et al (2022)

Geographically diverse canid sampling provides novel insights into pre-industrial microbiomes.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 289(1974):20220052.

Canine microbiome studies are often limited in the geographic and temporal scope of samples studied. This results in a paucity of data on the canine microbiome around the world, especially in contexts where dogs may not be pets or human associated. Here, we present the shotgun sequences of fecal microbiomes of pet dogs from South Africa, shelter and stray dogs from India, and stray village dogs in Laos. We additionally performed a dietary experiment with dogs housed in a veterinary medical school, attempting to replicate the diet of the sampled dogs from Laos. We analyse the taxonomic diversity in these populations and identify the underlying functional redundancy of these microbiomes. Our results show that diet alone is not sufficient to recapitulate the higher diversity seen in the microbiome of dogs from Laos. Comparisons to previous studies and ancient dog fecal microbiomes highlight the need for greater population diversity in studies of canine microbiomes, as modern analogues can provide better comparisons to ancient microbiomes. We identify trends in microbial diversity and industrialization in dogs that mirror results of human studies, suggesting future research can make use of these companion animals as substitutes for humans in studying the effects of industrialization on the microbiome.

RevDate: 2022-05-03

Yu H, van de Loosdrecht MS, Mannino MA, et al (2022)

Genomic and dietary discontinuities during the Mesolithic and Neolithic in Sicily.

iScience, 25(5):104244.

Sicily is a key region for understanding the agricultural transition in the Mediterranean because of its central position. Here, we present genomic and stable isotopic data for 19 prehistoric Sicilians covering the Mesolithic to Bronze Age periods (10,700-4,100 yBP). We find that Early Mesolithic hunter-gatherers (HGs) from Sicily are a highly drifted lineage of the Early Holocene western European HGs, whereas Late Mesolithic HGs carry ∼20% ancestry related to northern and (south) eastern European HGs, indicating substantial gene flow. Early Neolithic farmers are genetically most similar to farmers from the Balkans and Greece, with only ∼7% of ancestry from local Mesolithic HGs. The genetic discontinuities during the Mesolithic and Early Neolithic match the changes in material culture and diet. Three outlying individuals dated to ∼8,000 yBP; however, suggest that hunter-gatherers interacted with incoming farmers at Grotta dell'Uzzo, resulting in a mixed economy and diet for a brief interlude at the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition.

RevDate: 2022-04-28

Ausmees K, Sanchez-Quinto F, Jakobsson M, et al (2022)

An empirical evaluation of genotype imputation of ancient DNA.

G3 (Bethesda, Md.) pii:6575448 [Epub ahead of print].

With capabilities of sequencing ancient DNA to high coverage often limited by sample quality or cost, imputation of missing genotypes presents a possibility to increase power of inference as well as cost-effectiveness for the analysis of ancient data. However, the high degree of uncertainty often associated with ancient DNA poses several methodological challenges, and performance of imputation methods in this context has not been fully explored. To gain further insights, we performed a systematic evaluation of imputation of ancient data using Beagle 4.0 and reference data from phase 3 of the 1000 Genomes project, investigating the effects of coverage, phased reference and study sample size. Making use of five ancient individuals with high-coverage data available, we evaluated imputed data with respect to accuracy, reference bias and genetic affinities as captured by PCA. We obtained genotype concordance levels of over 99% for data with 1x coverage, and similar levels of accuracy and reference bias at levels as low as 0.75x. Our findings suggest that using imputed data can be a realistic option for various population genetic analyses even for data in coverage ranges below 1x. We also show that a large and varied phased reference panel as well as the inclusion of low- to moderate-coverage ancient individuals in the study sample can increase imputation performance, particularly for rare alleles. In-depth analysis of imputed data with respect to genetic variants and allele frequencies gave further insight into the nature of errors arising during imputation, and can provide practical guidelines for post-processing and validation prior to downstream analysis.

RevDate: 2022-05-06

Kędzior M, Garcia AK, Li M, et al (2022)

Resurrected Rubisco suggests uniform carbon isotope signatures over geologic time.

Cell reports, 39(4):110726.

The earliest geochemical indicators of microbes-and the enzymes that powered them-extend back ∼3.8 Ga on Earth. Paleobiologists often attempt to understand these indicators by assuming that the behaviors of extant microbes and enzymes are uniform with those of their predecessors. This consistency in behavior seems at odds with our understanding of the inherent variability of living systems. Here, we examine whether a uniformitarian assumption for an enzyme thought to generate carbon isotope indicators of biological activity, RuBisCO, can be corroborated by independently studying the history of changes recorded within RuBisCO's genetic sequences. We resurrected a Precambrian-age RuBisCO by engineering its ancient DNA inside a cyanobacterium genome and measured the engineered organism's fitness and carbon-isotope-discrimination profile. Results indicate that Precambrian uniformitarian assumptions may be warranted but with important caveats. Experimental studies illuminating early innovations are crucial to explore the molecular foundations of life's earliest traces.

RevDate: 2022-05-07

Dehasque M, Pečnerová P, Kempe Lagerholm V, et al (2022)

Development and Optimization of a Silica Column-Based Extraction Protocol for Ancient DNA.

Genes, 13(4):.

Rapid and cost-effective retrieval of endogenous DNA from ancient specimens remains a limiting factor in palaeogenomic research. Many methods have been developed to increase ancient DNA yield, but modifications to existing protocols are often based on personal experience rather than systematic testing. Here, we present a new silica column-based extraction protocol, where optimizations were tested in controlled experiments. Using relatively well-preserved permafrost samples, we tested the efficiency of pretreatment of bone and tooth powder with a bleach wash and a predigestion step. We also tested the recovery efficiency of MinElute and QIAquick columns, as well as Vivaspin columns with two molecular weight cut-off values. Finally, we tested the effect of uracil-treatment with two different USER enzyme concentrations. We find that neither bleach wash combined with a predigestion step, nor predigestion by itself, significantly increased sequencing efficiency. Initial results, however, suggest that MinElute columns are more efficient for ancient DNA extractions than QIAquick columns, whereas different molecular weight cut-off values in centrifugal concentrator columns did not have an effect. Uracil treatments are effective at removing DNA damage even at concentrations of 0.15 U/µL (as compared to 0.3 U/µL) of ancient DNA extracts.

RevDate: 2022-05-07

Gînguță A, Kovács B, Tihanyi B, et al (2022)

Maternal Lineages of Gepids from Transylvania.

Genes, 13(4):.

According to the written historical sources, the Gepids were a Germanic tribe that settled in the Carpathian Basin during the Migration Period. They were allies of the Huns, and an independent Gepid Kingdom arose after the collapse of the Hun Empire. In this period, the Carpathian Basin was characterized by so-called row-grave cemeteries. Due to the scarcity of historical and archaeological data, we have a poor knowledge of the origin and composition of these barbarian populations, and this is still a subject of debate. To better understand the genetic legacy of migration period societies, we obtained 46 full mitogenome sequences from three Gepid cemeteries located in Transylvania, Romania. The studied samples represent the Classical Gepidic period and illustrate the genetic make-up of this group from the late 5th and early 6th centuries AD, which is characterized by cultural markers associated with the Gepid culture in Transylvania. The genetic structure of the Gepid people is explored for the first time, providing new insights into the genetic makeup of this archaic group. The retrieved genetic data showed mainly the presence of Northwestern European mitochondrial ancient lineages in the Gepid group and all population genetic analyses reiterated the same genetic structure, showing that early ancient mitogenomes from Europe were the major contributors to the Gepid maternal genetic pool.

RevDate: 2022-04-25
CmpDate: 2022-04-25

Rivollat M, Thomas A, Ghesquière E, et al (2022)

Ancient DNA gives new insights into a Norman Neolithic monumental cemetery dedicated to male elites.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 119(18):e2120786119.

SignificanceBy integrating genomic and archaeological data, we provide new insights into the Neolithic French monumental site of Fleury-sur-Orne in Normandy, where a group of selected individuals was buried in impressively long monuments. The earliest individuals buried at Fleury-sur-Orne match the expected western European Neolithic genetic diversity, while three individuals, designated as genetic outliers, were buried after 4,000 calibrated BCE. We hypothesize that different, unrelated families or clans used the site over several centuries. Thirteen of 14 of the analyzed individuals were male, indicating an overarching patrilineal system. However, one exception, a female buried with a symbolically male artifact, suggests that the embodiment of the male gender in death was required to access burial at the monumental structures.

RevDate: 2022-04-24
CmpDate: 2022-04-22

Vallini L, Marciani G, Aneli S, et al (2022)

Genetics and Material Culture Support Repeated Expansions into Paleolithic Eurasia from a Population Hub Out of Africa.

Genome biology and evolution, 14(4):.

The population dynamics that followed the Out of Africa (OoA) expansion and the whereabouts of the early migrants before the differentiation that ultimately led to the formation of Oceanian, West and East Eurasian macropopulations have long been debated. Shedding light on these events may, in turn, provide clues to better understand the cultural evolution in Eurasia between 50 and 35 ka. Here, we analyze Eurasian Paleolithic DNA evidence to provide a comprehensive population model and validate it in light of available material culture. Leveraging on our integrated approach we propose the existence of a Eurasian population Hub, where Homo sapiens lived between the OoA and the broader colonization of Eurasia, which was characterized by multiple events of expansion and local extinction. A major population wave out of Hub, of which Ust'Ishim, Bacho Kiro, and Tianyuan are unadmixed representatives, is broadly associated with Initial Upper Paleolithic lithics and populated West and East Eurasia before or around 45 ka, before getting largely extinct in Europe. In this light, we suggest a parsimonious placement of Oase1 as an individual related to Bacho Kiro who experienced additional Neanderthal introgression. Another expansion, started before 38 ka, is broadly associated with Upper Paleolithic industries and repopulated Europe with sporadic admixtures with the previous wave (GoyetQ116-1) and more systematic ones, whereas moving through Siberia (Yana, Mal'ta). Before these events, we also confirm Zlatý Kůň as the most basal human lineage sequenced to date OoA, potentially representing an earlier wave of expansion out of the Hub.

RevDate: 2022-04-20

Brand CM, Colbran LL, JA Capra (2022)

Predicting Archaic Hominin Phenotypes from Genomic Data.

Annual review of genomics and human genetics [Epub ahead of print].

Ancient DNA provides a powerful window into the biology of extant and extinct species, including humans' closest relatives: Denisovans and Neanderthals. Here, we review what is known about archaic hominin phenotypes from genomic data and how those inferences have been made. We contend that understanding the influence of variants on lower-level molecular phenotypes-such as gene expression and protein function-is a promising approach to using ancient DNA to learn about archaic hominin traits. Molecular phenotypes have simpler genetic architectures than organism-level complex phenotypes, and this approach enables moving beyond association studies by proposing hypotheses about the effects of archaic variants that are testable in model systems. The major challenge to understanding archaic hominin phenotypes is broadening our ability to accurately map genotypes to phenotypes, but ongoing advances ensure that there will be much more to learn about archaic hominin phenotypes from their genomes. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics, Volume 23 is October 2022. Please see for revised estimates.

RevDate: 2022-05-17
CmpDate: 2022-04-18

Guiry EJ, James M, Cheung C, et al (2022)

Four millennia of long-term individual foraging site fidelity in a highly migratory marine predator.

Communications biology, 5(1):368.

Theory and field studies suggest that long-term individual foraging site fidelity (IFSF) may be an important adaptation to competition from increasing population. However, the driving mechanisms and extent of long-term IFSF in wild populations of long-lived, migratory animals has been logistically difficult to study, with only a few confirmed instances. Temporal isotopic datasets can reveal long-term patterns in geographical foraging behaviour. We investigate the isotopic compositions of endangered short-tailed albatross (Phoebastria albatrus) over four millennia leading up to their near-extinction. Although not exhibited by short-tailed albatross today, we show past sub-populations displayed a high-degree of long-term IFSF, focusing on the same locations for hundreds of generations. This is the first large-scale evidence for the deep antiquity of long-term IFSF and suggests that it's density-driven. Globally, as populations of species like short-tailed albatross continue to recover from overexploitation, potential for resurgence of geographic specialization may increase exposure to localized hazards, requiring closer conservation monitoring.

RevDate: 2022-04-26

Bonsu DOM, Afoakwah CB, Abedi M, et al (2022)

Ethics reporting in forensic science research publications - A review.

Forensic science international, 335:111290 pii:S0379-0738(22)00120-7 [Epub ahead of print].

An essential element of compliance with ethical standards in scientific research is the reporting of a verifiable declaration of ethical approval and, when human subjects are involved - informed consent, in published works. The level of reporting of ethical permission for research published in forensic and investigative sciences journals has not been explored to date. Hence, we examined the reporting of ethical approval and informed consent in original research utilising human or animal subjects published in six forensic science journals from 2010 to 2019. We identified 10,192 articles and retained 3010 that satisfied the inclusion criteria of utilising human (91.2%), or animal (7.0%) or both (1.8%) subjects or tissues in experiments. Just over a third (1079/3010) of all studies declared obtaining ethical approval, with 927 (85.9%) of those indicating the name of the ethical committee, but only 392 (36%) provided an approval code. Furthermore, while consent was said to have been sought in 527 (17.5%) of studies, only 155 of those reported that written informed consent was obtained, eleven stated oral (verbal) consent, while the remaining 357 studies (67.7%) did not report the process used to gain consent. Ethical approval reporting rates differed between different research types, availability of financial support and whether authors were affiliated to academia or industry. The results demonstrate a low level of declaration of ethical approval and informed consent in forensic science research and publication, requiring urgent rectification. We support the adoption of the model proposed by Forensic Science International: Genetics as baseline recommendations to facilitate consistent nomenclature, transparency, and standard of ethical reporting in forensic science.

RevDate: 2022-04-14
CmpDate: 2022-04-14

Schlebusch CM (2022)

Genomics: Testing the limits of de-extinction.

Current biology : CB, 32(7):R324-R327.

Resurrecting extinct species through de-extinction by genome editing requires full and unbiased information from the extinct species' genome. A new study establishes a framework to assess how much of an extinct species genome can be recovered by ancient DNA sequencing and which factors influence recovery.

RevDate: 2022-04-29
CmpDate: 2022-04-14

Andrades Valtueña A, Neumann GU, Spyrou MA, et al (2022)

Stone Age Yersinia pestis genomes shed light on the early evolution, diversity, and ecology of plague.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 119(17):e2116722119.

SignificanceThe bacterium Yersinia pestis has caused numerous historically documented outbreaks of plague and research using ancient DNA could demonstrate that it already affected human populations during the Neolithic. However, the pathogen's genetic diversity, geographic spread, and transmission dynamics during this early period of Y. pestis evolution are largely unexplored. Here, we describe a set of ancient plague genomes up to 5,000 y old from across Eurasia. Our data demonstrate that two genetically distinct forms of Y. pestis evolved in parallel and were both distributed across vast geographic distances, potentially occupying different ecological niches. Interpreted within the archeological context, our results suggest that the spread of plague during this period was linked to increased human mobility and intensification of animal husbandry.

RevDate: 2022-04-13

Fischer CE, Pemonge MH, Ducoussau I, et al (2022)

Origin and mobility of Iron Age Gaulish groups in present-day France revealed through archaeogenomics.

iScience, 25(4):104094.

The Iron Age period occupies an important place in French history because the Gauls are regularly presented as the direct ancestors of the extant French population. We documented here the genomic diversity of Iron Age communities originating from six French regions. The 49 acquired genomes permitted us to highlight an absence of discontinuity between Bronze Age and Iron Age groups in France, lending support to a cultural transition linked to progressive local economic changes rather than to a massive influx of allochthone groups. Genomic analyses revealed strong genetic homogeneity among the regional groups associated with distinct archaeological cultures. This genomic homogenization appears to be linked to individuals' mobility between regions and gene flow with neighbouring groups from England and Spain. Thus, the results globally support a common genomic legacy for the Iron Age population of modern-day France that could be linked to recurrent gene flow between culturally differentiated communities.

RevDate: 2022-04-29

Suchan T, Chauvey L, Poullet M, et al (2022)

Assessing the impact of USER-treatment on hyRAD capture applied to ancient DNA.

Molecular ecology resources [Epub ahead of print].

Ancient DNA preservation in subfossil specimens provides a unique opportunity to retrieve genetic information from the past. As ancient DNA extracts are generally dominated by molecules originating from environmental microbes, capture techniques are often used to economically retrieve orthologous sequence data at the population scale. Post-mortem DNA damage, especially the deamination of cytosine residues into uracils, also considerably inflates sequence error rates unless ancient DNA extracts are treated with the USER enzymatic mix prior to library construction. While both approaches have recently gained popularity in ancient DNA research, the impact of USER-treatment on capture efficacy still remains untested. In this study, we applied hyRAD capture to eight ancient equine subfossil specimens from France (1st-17th century CE), including horses, donkeys and their first-generation mule hybrids. We found that USER-treatment could reduce capture efficacy and introduce significant experimental bias. It differentially affected the size distribution of on-target templates following capture with two distinct hyRAD probe sets in a manner that was not driven by differences in probe sizes and DNA methylation levels. Finally, we recovered unbalanced proportions of donkey-specific and horse-specific alleles in mule capture sequence data, due to the combined effects of USER-treatment, probe sets and reference bias. Our work demonstrates that while USER-treatment can improve the quality of ancient DNA sequence data, it can also significantly affect hyRAD capture outcomes, introducing bias in the sequence data that is difficult to predict based on simple molecular probe features. Such technical batch effects may prove easier to model and correct for using capture with synthetic probes of controlled sizes and diversity content.

RevDate: 2022-05-04
CmpDate: 2022-04-15

Marciniak S, Bergey CM, Silva AM, et al (2022)

An integrative skeletal and paleogenomic analysis of stature variation suggests relatively reduced health for early European farmers.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 119(15):e2106743119.

SignificanceSubsistence shifts from hunting and gathering to agriculture over the last 12,000 y have impacted human culture, biology, and health. Although past human health cannot be assessed directly, adult stature variation and skeletal indicators of nonspecific stress can serve as proxies for health during growth and development. By integrating paleogenomic genotype and osteological stature data on a per-individual basis for 167 prehistoric Europeans, we observe relatively shorter than expected statures among early farmers after correcting for individual genetic contributions to stature. Poorer nutrition and/or increased disease burdens for early agriculturalists may partly underscore this result. Our integrated osteological-genetic model has exciting potential for studies of past human health and expansion into various other contexts.

RevDate: 2022-05-03
CmpDate: 2022-04-22

Di D, Simon Thomas J, Currat M, et al (2022)

Challenging Ancient DNA Results About Putative HLA Protection or Susceptibility to Yersinia pestis.

Molecular biology and evolution, 39(4):.

In a recent article, Immel et al. (Immel A, Key FM, Szolek A, Barquera R, Robinson MK, Harrison GF, Palmer WH, Spyrou MA, Susat J, Krause-Kyora B, et al. 2021. Analysis of genomic DNA from medieval plague victims suggests long-term effect of Yersinia pestis on human immunity genes. Mol Biol Evol. 38:4059-4076) extracted DNA from 36 individuals dead from plague in Ellwangen, Southern Germany, during the 16th century. By comparing their human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genotypes with those of 50 present-day Ellwangen inhabitants, the authors reported a significant decrease of HLA-B*51:01 and HLA-C*06:02 and a significant increase of HLA-DRB1*13:01/13:02 frequencies from ancient to modern populations. After comparing these frequencies with a larger sample of 8,862 modern Germans and performing simulations of natural selection, they concluded that these changes had been driven by natural selection. In an attempt to provide more evidence on such stimulating results, we explored the HLA frequency patterns over all of Europe, we predicted binding affinities of HLA-B/C/DRB1 alleles to 106,515 Yersinia pestis-derived peptides, and we performed forward simulations of HLA genetic profiles under neutrality. Our analyses do not sustain the conclusions of HLA protection or susceptibility to plague based on ancient DNA.

RevDate: 2022-05-09

Barrett JH, Khamaiko N, Ferrari G, et al (2022)

Walruses on the Dnieper: new evidence for the intercontinental trade of Greenlandic ivory in the Middle Ages.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 289(1972):20212773.

Mediaeval walrus hunting in Iceland and Greenland-driven by Western European demand for ivory and walrus hide ropes-has been identified as an important pre-modern example of ecological globalization. By contrast, the main origin of walrus ivory destined for eastern European markets, and then onward trade to Asia, is assumed to have been Arctic Russia. Here, we investigate the geographical origin of nine twelfth-century CE walrus specimens discovered in Kyiv, Ukraine-combining archaeological typology (based on chaîne opératoire assessment), ancient DNA (aDNA) and stable isotope analysis. We show that five of seven specimens tested using aDNA can be genetically assigned to a western Greenland origin. Moreover, six of the Kyiv rostra had been sculpted in a way typical of Greenlandic imports to Western Europe, and seven are tentatively consistent with a Greenland origin based on stable isotope analysis. Our results suggest that demand for the products of Norse Greenland's walrus hunt stretched not only to Western Europe but included Ukraine and, by implication given linked trade routes, also Russia, Byzantium and Asia. These observations illuminate the surprising scale of mediaeval ecological globalization and help explain the pressure this process exerted on distant wildlife populations and those who harvested them.

RevDate: 2022-05-06
CmpDate: 2022-04-19

Gnecchi-Ruscone GA, Szécsényi-Nagy A, Koncz I, et al (2022)

Ancient genomes reveal origin and rapid trans-Eurasian migration of 7th century Avar elites.

Cell, 185(8):1402-1413.e21.

The Avars settled the Carpathian Basin in 567/68 CE, establishing an empire lasting over 200 years. Who they were and where they came from is highly debated. Contemporaries have disagreed about whether they were, as they claimed, the direct successors of the Mongolian Steppe Rouran empire that was destroyed by the Turks in ∼550 CE. Here, we analyze new genome-wide data from 66 pre-Avar and Avar-period Carpathian Basin individuals, including the 8 richest Avar-period burials and further elite sites from Avar's empire core region. Our results provide support for a rapid long-distance trans-Eurasian migration of Avar-period elites. These individuals carried Northeast Asian ancestry matching the profile of preceding Mongolian Steppe populations, particularly a genome available from the Rouran period. Some of the later elite individuals carried an additional non-local ancestry component broadly matching the steppe, which could point to a later migration or reflect greater genetic diversity within the initial migrant population.

RevDate: 2022-04-02

Molodtseva AS, Makunin AI, Salomashkina VV, et al (2022)

Phylogeography of ancient and modern brown bears from eastern Eurasia.

Biological journal of the Linnean Society. Linnean Society of London, 135(4):722-733.

The brown bear (Ursus arctos) is an iconic carnivoran species of the Northern Hemisphere. Its population history has been studied extensively using mitochondrial markers, which demonstrated signatures of multiple waves of migration, arguably connected with glaciation periods. Among Eurasian brown bears, Siberian populations remain understudied. We have sequenced complete mitochondrial genomes of four ancient (~4.5-40 kya) bears from South Siberia and 19 modern bears from South Siberia and the Russian Far East. Reconstruction of phylogenetic relationships between haplotypes and evaluation of modern population structure have demonstrated that all the studied samples belong to the most widespread Eurasian clade 3. One of the ancient haplotypes takes a basal position relative to the whole of clade 3; the second is basal to the haplogroup 3a (the most common subclade), and two others belong to clades 3a1 and 3b. Modern Siberian bears retain at least some of this diversity; apart from the most common haplogroup 3a, we demonstrate the presence of clade 3b, which was previously found mainly in mainland Eurasia and Northern Japan. Our findings highlight the importance of South Siberia as a refugium for northern Eurasian brown bears and further corroborate the hypothesis of several waves of migration in the Pleistocene.

RevDate: 2022-04-01

Arizmendi Cárdenas YO, Neuenschwander S, AS Malaspinas (2022)

Benchmarking metagenomics classifiers on ancient viral DNA: a simulation study.

PeerJ, 10:e12784.

Owing to technological advances in ancient DNA, it is now possible to sequence viruses from the past to track down their origin and evolution. However, ancient DNA data is considerably more degraded and contaminated than modern data making the identification of ancient viral genomes particularly challenging. Several methods to characterise the modern microbiome (and, within this, the virome) have been developed; in particular, tools that assign sequenced reads to specific taxa in order to characterise the organisms present in a sample of interest. While these existing tools are routinely used in modern data, their performance when applied to ancient microbiome data to screen for ancient viruses remains unknown. In this work, we conducted an extensive simulation study using public viral sequences to establish which tool is the most suitable to screen ancient samples for human DNA viruses. We compared the performance of four widely used classifiers, namely Centrifuge, Kraken2, DIAMOND and MetaPhlAn2, in correctly assigning sequencing reads to the corresponding viruses. To do so, we simulated reads by adding noise typical of ancient DNA to a set of publicly available human DNA viral sequences and to the human genome. We fragmented the DNA into different lengths, added sequencing error and C to T and G to A deamination substitutions at the read termini. Then we measured the resulting sensitivity and precision for all classifiers. Across most simulations, more than 228 out of the 233 simulated viruses were recovered by Centrifuge, Kraken2 and DIAMOND, in contrast to MetaPhlAn2 which recovered only around one third. Overall, Centrifuge and Kraken2 had the best performance with the highest values of sensitivity and precision. We found that deamination damage had little impact on the performance of the classifiers, less than the sequencing error and the length of the reads. Since Centrifuge can handle short reads (in contrast to DIAMOND and Kraken2 with default settings) and since it achieve the highest sensitivity and precision at the species level across all the simulations performed, it is our recommended tool. Regardless of the tool used, our simulations indicate that, for ancient human studies, users should use strict filters to remove all reads of potential human origin. Finally, we recommend that users verify which species are present in the database used, as it might happen that default databases lack sequences for viruses of interest.

RevDate: 2022-04-01

Xiong J, Du P, Chen G, et al (2022)

Sex-Biased Population Admixture Mediated Subsistence Strategy Transition of Heishuiguo People in Han Dynasty Hexi Corridor.

Frontiers in genetics, 13:827277.

The Hexi Corridor was an important arena for culture exchange and human migration between ancient China and Central and Western Asia. During the Han Dynasty (202 BCE-220 CE), subsistence strategy along the corridor shifted from pastoralism to a mixed pastoralist-agriculturalist economy. Yet the drivers of this transition remain poorly understood. In this study, we analyze the Y-chromosome and mtDNA of 31 Han Dynasty individuals from the Heishuiguo site, located in the center of the Hexi Corridor. A high-resolution analysis of 485 Y-SNPs and mitogenomes was performed, with the Heishuiguo population classified into Early Han and Late Han groups. It is revealed that (1) when dissecting genetic lineages, the Yellow River Basin origin haplogroups (i.e., Oα-M117, Oβ-F46, Oγ-IMS-JST002611, and O2-P164+, M134-) reached relatively high frequencies for the paternal gene pools, while haplogroups of north East Asian origin (e.g., D4 and D5) dominated on the maternal side; (2) in interpopulation comparison using PCA and Fst heatmap, the Heishuiguo population shifted from Southern-Northern Han cline to Northern-Northwestern Han/Hui cline with time, indicating genetic admixture between Yellow River immigrants and natives. By comparison, in maternal mtDNA views, the Heishuiguo population was closely clustered with certain Mongolic-speaking and Northwestern Han populations and exhibited genetic continuity through the Han Dynasty, which suggests that Heishuiguo females originated from local or neighboring regions. Therefore, a sex-biased admixture pattern is observed in the Heishuiguo population. Additionally, genetic contour maps also reveal the same male-dominated migration from the East to Hexi Corridor during the Han Dynasty. This is also consistent with historical records, especially excavated bamboo slips. Combining historical records, archeological findings, stable isotope analysis, and paleoenvironmental studies, our uniparental genetic investigation on the Heishuiguo population reveals how male-dominated migration accompanied with lifestyle adjustments brought by these eastern groups may be the main factor affecting the subsistence strategy transition along the Han Dynasty Hexi Corridor.

RevDate: 2022-04-13
CmpDate: 2022-04-08

Kim K, Kim DH, KY Kim (2022)

Mitochondrial Haplogroup Classification of Ancient DNA Samples Using Haplotracker.

BioMed research international, 2022:5344418.

Mitochondrial DNA haplogroup classification is used to study maternal lineage of ancient human populations. The haplogrouping of ancient DNA is not easy because the DNA is usually found in small pieces in limited quantities. We have developed Haplotracker, a straightforward and efficient high-resolution haplogroup classification tool optimized specifically for ancient DNA samples. Haplotracker offers a user-friendly input interface for multiple mitochondrial DNA sequence fragments in a sample. It provides accurate haplogroup classification with full-length mitochondrial genome sequences and provides high-resolution haplogroup predictions for some fragmented control region sequences using a novel algorithm built on Phylotree mtDNA Build 17 (Phylotree) and our haplotype database (n = 118,869). Its performance for accuracy was demonstrated to be high through haplogroup classification using 8,216 Phylotree full-length and control region mitochondrial DNA sequences compared with HaploGrep 2, one of the most accurate current haplogroup classifiers. Haplotracker provides a novel haplogroup tracking solution for fragmented sequences to track subhaplogroups or verify the haplogroups efficiently. Using Haplotracker, we classified mitochondrial haplogroups to the final subhaplogroup level in nine ancient DNA samples extracted from human skeletal remains found in 2,000-year-old elite Xiongnu cemetery in Northeast Mongolia. Haplotracker can be freely accessed at

RevDate: 2022-03-29

Horsburgh KA, Beckett DB, AL Gosling (2022)

Maternal Relationships among Ancient and Modern Southern African Sheep: Newly Discovered Mitochondrial Haplogroups.

Biology, 11(3):.

We investigated the genetic diversity and historic relationships among southern African sheep as well as the relationships between them and sheep outside the continent by sourcing both archaeological and modern sheep samples. Archaeological sheep samples derived from the site Die Kelders 1, near Cape Town, date to approximately 1500 years ago. The modern samples were taken as ear snips from Damara, Namaqua Afrikaner, and Ronderib Afrikaner sheep on a farm in Prieska in the Northern Cape. Illumina sequencing libraries were constructed for both ancient and modern specimens. Ancient specimens were enriched for the mitochondrial genome using an in-solution hybridization protocol and modern specimens were subjected to shotgun sequencing. Sequences were mapped to the Ovis aries reference genome, assigned to haplogroups and subhaplogroups, and used to calculate a phylogenetic tree using previously published, geographically dispersed mitochondrial genome sheep sequences. Genetic diversity statistics show that southern African sheep have lower diversity than sheep in other regions. Phylogenetic analysis reveals that many modern southern African sheep are likely descended from prehistoric indigenous sheep populations and not from sheep imported from Europe during the historic period.

RevDate: 2022-03-30
CmpDate: 2022-03-30

Gibbons A (2022)

Southern roots for the Maya-and the maize that fed them.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 375(6587):1325.

Migrants from the south may have helped spread early farming in Central America, ancient DNA suggests.

RevDate: 2022-05-12

Kennett DJ, Lipson M, Prufer KM, et al (2022)

South-to-north migration preceded the advent of intensive farming in the Maya region.

Nature communications, 13(1):1530.

The genetic prehistory of human populations in Central America is largely unexplored leaving an important gap in our knowledge of the global expansion of humans. We report genome-wide ancient DNA data for a transect of twenty individuals from two Belize rock-shelters dating between 9,600-3,700 calibrated radiocarbon years before present (cal. BP). The oldest individuals (9,600-7,300 cal. BP) descend from an Early Holocene Native American lineage with only distant relatedness to present-day Mesoamericans, including Mayan-speaking populations. After ~5,600 cal. BP a previously unknown human dispersal from the south made a major demographic impact on the region, contributing more than 50% of the ancestry of all later individuals. This new ancestry derived from a source related to present-day Chibchan speakers living from Costa Rica to Colombia. Its arrival corresponds to the first clear evidence for forest clearing and maize horticulture in what later became the Maya region.

RevDate: 2022-05-06
CmpDate: 2022-05-02

Severson AL, Byrd BF, Mallott EK, et al (2022)

Ancient and modern genomics of the Ohlone Indigenous population of California.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 119(13):e2111533119.

SignificanceCalifornia supports a high cultural and linguistic diversity of Indigenous peoples. In a partnership of researchers with the Muwekma Ohlone tribe, we studied genomes of eight present-day tribal members and 12 ancient individuals from two archaeological sites in the San Francisco Bay Area, spanning ∼2,000 y. We find that compared to genomes of Indigenous individuals from throughout the Americas, the 12 ancient individuals are most genetically similar to ancient individuals from Southern California, and that despite spanning a large time period, they share distinctive ancestry. This ancestry is also shared with present-day tribal members, providing evidence of genetic continuity between past and present Indigenous individuals in the region, in contrast to some popular reconstructions based on archaeological and linguistic information.

RevDate: 2022-03-24
CmpDate: 2022-03-22

Fu M, Y Li (2022)

The origin and domestication history of domestic horses and the domestication characteristics of breeds.

Yi chuan = Hereditas, 44(3):216-229.

The horse (Equus caballus) was domesticated thousands of years after dog, cattle, pig, sheep, and goat. Importantly, it represents the domestic animal that mostly impacted the development of human civilization. Its excellent loading and moving ability prompted the changes from fixed farming mode into mobile sharing mode. Accordingly, its domestication history deserves considerable attention. So far, many issues have long been controversial, due to the extinction of the closest wild relatives and the dramatic reduction of genetic diversity. With the continuous development of sequencing technology and the utilization of ancient samples, we got more clues to the origin and domestication process. In this review, we summarize 1) current progresses on the domestication history revealed by nuclear genes, mtDNA, Y chromosome, and ancient DNA, 2) the characteristics of population structure and diversification among modern breeds, 3) the genetic basis of important phenotypes, such as coat color, speed, and body size. The overall aim of the review is to provide in-depth insights into the studies of horse domestication, the preservation and utilization of genetic resources, the direction of breeding improvement, and the development of modern horse industry in future.

RevDate: 2022-05-11

Scarsbrook L, Verry AJF, Walton K, et al (2022)

Ancient mitochondrial genomes recovered from small vertebrate bones through minimally destructive DNA extraction: Phylogeography of the New Zealand gecko genus Hoplodactylus.

Molecular ecology [Epub ahead of print].

Methodological and technological improvements are continually revolutionizing the field of ancient DNA. Most ancient DNA extraction methods require the partial (or complete) destruction of finite museum specimens, which disproportionately impacts small or fragmentary subfossil remains, and future analyses. We present a minimally destructive ancient DNA extraction method optimized for small vertebrate remains. We applied this method to detect lost mainland genetic diversity in the large New Zealand diplodactylid gecko genus Hoplodactylus, which is presently restricted to predator-free island and mainland sanctuaries. We present the first mitochondrial genomes for New Zealand diplodactylid geckos, recovered from 19 modern, six historical/archival (1898-2011) and 16 Holocene Hoplodactylus duvaucelii sensu latu specimens, and one modern Woodworthia sp. specimen. No obvious damage was observed in post-extraction micro-computed tomography reconstructions. All "large gecko" specimens examined from extinct populations were found to be conspecific with extant Hoplodactylus species, suggesting their large relative size evolved only once in the New Zealand diplodactylid radiation. Phylogenetic analyses of Hoplodactylus samples recovered two genetically (and morphologically) distinct North and South Island clades, probably corresponding to distinct species. Finer phylogeographical structuring within Hoplodactylus spp. highlighted the impacts of Late Cenozoic biogeographical barriers, including the opening and closure of Pliocene marine straits, fluctuations in the size and suitability of glacial refugia, and eustatic sea-level change. Recent mainland extinction obscured these signals from the modern tissue-derived data. These results highlight the utility of minimally destructive DNA extraction in genomic analyses of less well studied small vertebrate taxa, and the conservation of natural history collections.

RevDate: 2022-04-06

Schwörer C, Leunda M, Alvarez N, et al (2022)

The untapped potential of macrofossils in ancient plant DNA research.

The New phytologist [Epub ahead of print].

The rapid development of ancient DNA analysis in the last decades has induced a paradigm shift in ecology and evolution. Driven by a combination of breakthroughs in DNA isolation techniques, high-throughput sequencing, and bioinformatics, ancient genome-scale data for a rapidly growing variety of taxa are now available, allowing researchers to directly observe demographic and evolutionary processes over time. However, the vast majority of paleogenomic studies still focus on human or animal remains. In this article, we make the case for a vast untapped resource of ancient plant material that is ideally suited for paleogenomic analyses: plant remains, such as needles, leaves, wood, seeds, or fruits, that are deposited in natural archives, such as lake sediments, permafrost, or even ice caves. Such plant remains are commonly found in large numbers and in stratigraphic sequence through time and have so far been used primarily to reconstruct past local species presences and abundances. However, they are also unique repositories of genetic information with the potential to revolutionize the fields of ecology and evolution by directly studying microevolutionary processes over time. Here, we give an overview of the current state-of-the-art, address important challenges, and highlight new research avenues to inspire future research.

RevDate: 2022-05-17
CmpDate: 2022-05-09

Biddanda A, Steinrücken M, J Novembre (2022)

Properties of 2-locus genealogies and linkage disequilibrium in temporally structured samples.

Genetics, 221(1):.

Archeogenetics has been revolutionary, revealing insights into demographic history and recent positive selection. However, most studies to date have ignored the nonrandom association of genetic variants at different loci (i.e. linkage disequilibrium). This may be in part because basic properties of linkage disequilibrium in samples from different times are still not well understood. Here, we derive several results for summary statistics of haplotypic variation under a model with time-stratified sampling: (1) The correlation between the number of pairwise differences observed between time-staggered samples (πΔt) in models with and without strict population continuity; (2) The product of the linkage disequilibrium coefficient, D, between ancient and modern samples, which is a measure of haplotypic similarity between modern and ancient samples; and (3) The expected switch rate in the Li and Stephens haplotype copying model. The latter has implications for genotype imputation and phasing in ancient samples with modern reference panels. Overall, these results provide a characterization of how haplotype patterns are affected by sample age, recombination rates, and population sizes. We expect these results will help guide the interpretation and analysis of haplotype data from ancient and modern samples.

RevDate: 2022-05-06
CmpDate: 2022-05-06

Her C, Rezaei HR, Hughes S, et al (2022)

Broad maternal geographic origin of domestic sheep in Anatolia and the Zagros.

Animal genetics, 53(3):452-459.

We investigated the controversial origin of domestic sheep (Ovis aries) using large samples of contemporary and ancient domestic individuals and their closest wild relatives: the Asiatic mouflon (Ovis gmelini), the urial (Ovis vignei) and the argali (Ovis ammon). A phylogeny based on mitochondrial DNA, including 213 new cytochrome-b sequences of wild Ovism confirmed that O. gmelini is the maternal ancestor of sheep and precluded mtDNA contributions from O. vignei (and O. gmelini × O. vignei hybrids) to domestic lineages. We also produced 54 new control region sequences showing shared haplogroups (A, B, C and E) between domestic sheep and wild O. gmelini which localized the domestication center in eastern Anatolia and central Zagros, excluding regions further east where exclusively wild haplogroups were found. This overlaps with the geographic distribution of O. gmelini gmelini, further suggesting that the maternal origin of domestic sheep derives from this subspecies. Additionally, we produced 57 new CR sequences of Neolithic sheep remains from a large area covering Anatolia to Europe, showing the early presence of at least three mitochondrial haplogroups (A, B and D) in Western colonization routes. This confirmed that sheep domestication was a large-scale process that captured diverse maternal lineages (haplogroups).

RevDate: 2022-05-10

Zhou BF, Yuan S, Crowl AA, et al (2022)

Phylogenomic analyses highlight innovation and introgression in the continental radiations of Fagaceae across the Northern Hemisphere.

Nature communications, 13(1):1320.

Northern Hemisphere forests changed drastically in the early Eocene with the diversification of the oak family (Fagaceae). Cooling climates over the next 20 million years fostered the spread of temperate biomes that became increasingly dominated by oaks and their chestnut relatives. Here we use phylogenomic analyses of nuclear and plastid genomes to investigate the timing and pattern of major macroevolutionary events and ancient genome-wide signatures of hybridization across Fagaceae. Innovation related to seed dispersal is implicated in triggering waves of continental radiations beginning with the rapid diversification of major lineages and resulting in unparalleled transformation of forest dynamics within 15 million years following the K-Pg extinction. We detect introgression at multiple time scales, including ancient events predating the origination of genus-level diversity. As oak lineages moved into newly available temperate habitats in the early Miocene, secondary contact between previously isolated species occurred. This resulted in adaptive introgression, which may have further amplified the diversification of white oaks across Eurasia.

RevDate: 2022-04-11
CmpDate: 2022-04-11

Lorentz KO, Kamel G, Lemmers SAM, et al (2022)

Synchrotron Radiation Fourier Transform Infrared (SR-FTIR) spectroscopy in exploring ancient human hair from Roman period Juliopolis: Preservation status and alterations of organic compounds.

Spectrochimica acta. Part A, Molecular and biomolecular spectroscopy, 274:121026.

We explore the preservation status and alterations of organic compounds in Roman period human hairstrandsfrom a specific individual (M196) excavated at Juliopolis (JP). How do these organic compounds present in this c. 2000-year-old human hair compare to those present in modern hair? Alterations to organic compounds in archaeological human hair are caused by biological degradative processes dependent on multifactorial processes acting on the hair since the deposition of a body in a mortuary context. We investigate the type of organic compounds present using Synchrotron Radiation Fourier Transform Infrared (SR-FTIR). Juliopolis (Iuliopolis) is an ancient multiperiod city, located in the Çayırhan district of Nallıhan, northwest of Ankara. The Juliopolis necropolis from which M196 was recovered was in use throughout the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine periods, and yielded over 700 tombs with numerous human remains. One tomb (M196) contained human remains of exceptional preservation status, including substantial amounts of hair. Human hair from archaeological contexts is not only extremely rare, but importantly, has high analytical value, with potential for analysis of diet, geographical origins, ancient DNA, metal exposure, and other aspects of life in a time-resolved manner. These data make significant contributions to the life history of the individual (osteobiography), as well as contribute towards key archaeological questions. As these analyses are in their majority destructive, prior evaluation of the preservation of sufficient amounts of the organic compounds on which many such analyses rely upon is crucial, to avoid unnecessary loss of precious ancient samples. The results of our SR-FTIR analyses at SESAME synchrotron show that keratin in the JP M196 is more degraded in comparison to the modern reference sample. However, the results also point to clear potential for further analyses with techniques relying on organic compound preservation, such as C and N isotopic analyses for diet, and aDNA.

RevDate: 2022-03-14

Singh H, Shipra , Sharma V, et al (2022)

The first study of epidemiology of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis shows lower prevalence in females of Jammu and Kashmir, India.

American journal of translational research, 14(2):1100-1106.

AIS is a heterogeneous 3D spinal deformity with Cobb angle ≥10°. It affects children in the age group of 10-16 years globally with 2-3% prevalence and significant female predominance. The exact etiology of AIS is not known however, it is supposed to be associated with factors such as anthropometric, metabolic, neuromuscular abnormalities and genetics.

OBJECTIVES: To determine the prevalence of AIS and association of anthropometric factors with AIS in the studied population group.

METHODOLOGY: Scoliosis screening of 9,500 individuals was carried out at different educational institutions of Jammu region in Jammu and Kashmir, India using a scoliosis-meter. The subjects were later examined radiologically.

RESULTS: In population of the region, AIS was most prevalent among all types of scoliosis with overall prevalence of 0.61%. The prevalence was observed to be lower in females (0.31%) than males (0.88%). Based on angle of trunk rotation (ATR), lumbar curves were more prevalent than thoracic curves. Average Cobb angle in males and females were 24.9° and 22.6°, respectively. BMI showed significant association with AIS in the age group of 12-16 years (P value =0.028). Furthermore, height was significantly associated with AIS in the overall screened population (P-value =0.029).

CONCLUSIONS: The AIS patients in the Jammu region of India have unique clinical features. In contrast to the global prevalence data, the prevalence of AIS in females in the region was less in comparison to males. Based on epidemiological literature and our findings, we hypothesized that genetic factors might be a major contributor in the AIS pathogenesis along with other confounding factors such as height, BMI, ethnicity, etc.

RevDate: 2022-04-14
CmpDate: 2022-04-14

Lin J, Duchêne D, Carøe C, et al (2022)

Probing the genomic limits of de-extinction in the Christmas Island rat.

Current biology : CB, 32(7):1650-1656.e3.

Three principal methods are under discussion as possible pathways to "true" de-extinction; i.e., back-breeding, cloning, and genetic engineering.1,2 Of these, while the latter approach is most likely to apply to the largest number of extinct species, its potential is constrained by the degree to which the extinct species genome can be reconstructed. We explore this question using the extinct Christmas Island rat (Rattus macleari) as a model, an endemic rat species that was driven extinct between 1898 and 1908.3-5 We first re-sequenced its genome to an average of >60× coverage, then mapped it to the reference genomes of different Rattus species. We then explored how evolutionary divergence from the extant reference genome affected the fraction of the Christmas Island rat genome that could be recovered. Our analyses show that even when the extremely high-quality Norway brown rat (R. norvegicus) is used as a reference, nearly 5% of the genome sequence is unrecoverable, with 1,661 genes recovered at lower than 90% completeness, and 26 completely absent. Furthermore, we find the distribution of regions affected is not random, but for example, if 90% completeness is used as the cutoff, genes related to immune response and olfaction are excessively affected. Ultimately, our approach demonstrates the importance of applying similar analyses to candidates for de-extinction through genome editing in order to provide critical baseline information about how representative the edited form would be of the extinct species.

RevDate: 2022-03-23

Zavala EI, Aximu-Petri A, Richter J, et al (2022)

Quantifying and reducing cross-contamination in single- and multiplex hybridization capture of ancient DNA.

Molecular ecology resources [Epub ahead of print].

The use of hybridization capture has enabled a massive upscaling in sample sizes for ancient DNA studies, allowing the analysis of hundreds of skeletal remains or sediments in single studies. Nevertheless, demands in throughput continue to grow, and hybridization capture has become a limiting step in sample preparation due to the large consumption of reagents, consumables and time. Here, we explored the possibility of improving the economics of sample preparation via multiplex capture, that is, the hybridization capture of pools of double-indexed ancient DNA libraries. We demonstrate that this strategy is feasible, at least for small genomic targets such as mitochondrial DNA, if the annealing temperature is increased and PCR cycles are limited in post-capture amplification to avoid index swapping by jumping PCR, which manifests as cross-contamination in resulting sequence data. We also show that the reamplification of double-indexed libraries to PCR plateau before or after hybridization capture can sporadically lead to small, but detectable cross-contamination even if libraries are amplified in separate reactions. We provide protocols for both manual capture and automated capture in 384-well format that are compatible with single- and multiplex capture and effectively suppress cross-contamination and artefact formation. Last, we provide a simple computational method for quantifying cross-contamination due to index swapping in double-indexed libraries, which we recommend using for routine quality checks in studies that are sensitive to cross-contamination.

RevDate: 2022-04-13
CmpDate: 2022-04-13

Vågene ÅJ, Honap TP, Harkins KM, et al (2022)

Geographically dispersed zoonotic tuberculosis in pre-contact South American human populations.

Nature communications, 13(1):1195.

Previous ancient DNA research has shown that Mycobacterium pinnipedii, which today causes tuberculosis (TB) primarily in pinnipeds, infected human populations living in the coastal areas of Peru prior to European colonization. Skeletal evidence indicates the presence of TB in several pre-colonial South and North American populations with minimal access to marine resources- a scenario incompatible with TB transmission directly from infected pinnipeds or their tissues. In this study, we investigate the causative agent of TB in ten pre-colonial, non-coastal individuals from South America. We reconstruct M. pinnipedii genomes (10- to 15-fold mean coverage) from three contemporaneous individuals from inland Peru and Colombia, demonstrating the widespread dissemination of M. pinnipedii beyond the coast, either through human-to-human and/or animal-mediated routes. Overall, our study suggests that TB transmission in the pre-colonial era Americas involved a more complex transmission pathway than simple pinniped-to-human transfer.

RevDate: 2022-05-02

Hong JH, Oh CS, Kim S, et al (2022)

Genetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA from ancient Equus caballus bones found at archaeological site of Joseon dynasty period capital area.

Animal bioscience pii:ab.21.0500 [Epub ahead of print].

OBJECTIVE: To understand the domestication and spread of horses in history, genetic information is essential. However, mitogenetic traits of ancient or medieval horses have yet to be comprehensively revealed, especially for East Asia. This study thus set out to reveal the maternal lineage of skeletal horse remains retrieved from a 15th century archaeological site (Gongpyeongdong) at Old Seoul City in South Korea.

METHODS: We extracted DNA from the femur of Equus caballus (SNU-A001) from Joseon period Gongpyeongdong site. Mitochondrial (mt) DNA (HRS 15128-16116) of E. caballus was amplified by PCR. Cloning and sequencing was conducted for the mtDNA amplicons. The sequencing results were analyzed by NCBI/BLAST and phylogenetic tool of MEGA7 software.

RESULTS: The horse is unique among domesticated animals for the remarkable impact it has on human civilization in terms of transportation and trade. Utilizing the Joseon-period horse remains, we can obtain clues to reveal the genetic traits of Korean horse that existed before the introduction of Western horses.

CONCLUSION: By means of mtDNA cytochrome b and D-loop analysis, we found that the 15th century Korean horse belonged to haplogroup Q representing those horses that have historically been raised widely in East Asia.

RevDate: 2022-03-03

Nores R, Tavella MP, Fabra M, et al (2022)

Ancient DNA analysis reveals temporal and geographical patterns of mitochondrial diversity in pre-Hispanic populations from Central Argentina.

American journal of human biology : the official journal of the Human Biology Council [Epub ahead of print].

OBJECTIVES: The study of the ancient populations of Central Argentina has a crucial importance for our understanding of the evolutionary processes in the Southern Cone of South America, given its geographic position as a crossroads. Therefore, the aim of this study is to evaluate the temporal and geographical patterns of genetic variation among the groups that inhabited the current territory of Córdoba Province during the Middle and Late Holocene.

METHODS: We analyzed the mitochondrial haplogroups of 74 individuals and 46 Hypervariable Region I (HVR-I) sequences, both novel and previously reported, from archeological populations of the eastern Plains and western Sierras regions of the province of Córdoba. The HVR-I sequences were also compared with other ancient groups from Argentina and with present-day populations from Central Argentina by pairwise distance analysis and identification of shared haplotypes.

RESULTS: Significant differences in haplogroup and haplotype distributions between the two geographical regions were found. Sierras showed genetic affinities with certain ancient populations of Northwestern Argentina, while Plains resembled its neighbors from Santiago del Estero Province and the Pampas region. We did not observe genetic differences among the pre 1200 and post 1200 yBP temporal subsets of individuals defined by the emergence of horticulture, considering both geographical samples jointly.

CONCLUSIONS: The observed patterns of geographical heterogeneity could indicate the existence of biologically distinct populations inhabiting the mountainous region and the eastern plains of Córdoba Province in pre-Hispanic times. Maternal lineages analyses support a scenario of local evolution with great temporal depth in Central Argentina, with continuity until the present.

RevDate: 2022-02-25

Jäger HY, Maixner F, Pap I, et al (2022)

Metagenomic analysis reveals mixed Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in a 18th century Hungarian midwife.

Tuberculosis (Edinburgh, Scotland) pii:S1472-9792(22)00018-X [Epub ahead of print].

The Vác Mummy Collection comprises 265 well documented mummified individuals from the late 16th to the early 18th century that were discovered in 1994 inside a crypt in Vác, Hungary. This collection offers a unique opportunity to study the relationship between humans and pathogens in the pre-antibiotic era, as previous studies have shown a high proportion of tuberculosis (TB) infections among the individuals. In this study, we recovered ancient DNA with shotgun sequencing from a rib bone sample of a 18th century midwife. This individual is part of the collection and shows clear skeletal changes that are associated with tuberculosis and syphilis. To provide molecular proof, we applied a metagenomic approach to screen for ancient pathogen DNA. While we were unsuccessful to recover any ancient Treponema pallidum DNA, we retrieved high coverage ancient TB DNA and identified a mixed infection with two distinct TB strains by detailed single-nucleotide polymorphism and phylogenetic analysis. Thereby, we have obtained comprehensive results demonstrating the long-time prevalence of mixed infections with the sublineages L4.1.2.1/Haarlem and L4.10/PGG3 within the local community in preindustrial Hungary and put them in context of sociohistorical factors.

RevDate: 2022-03-02

Reynoso-García J, Narganes-Storde Y, Santiago-Rodriguez TM, et al (2022)

Mycobiome-Host Coevolution? The Mycobiome of Ancestral Human Populations Seems to Be Different and Less Diverse Than Those of Extant Native and Urban-Industrialized Populations.

Microorganisms, 10(2):.

Few data exist on the human gut mycobiome in relation to lifestyle, ethnicity, and dietary habits. To understand the effect of these factors on the structure of the human gut mycobiome, we analyzed sequences belonging to two extinct pre-Columbian cultures inhabiting Puerto Rico (the Huecoid and Saladoid) and compared them to coprolite samples found in Mexico and Ötzi, the Iceman's large intestine. Stool mycobiome samples from extant populations in Peru and urban cultures from the United States were also included. The ancient Puerto Rican cultures exhibited a lower fungal diversity in comparison to the extant populations. Dissimilarity distances showed that the Huecoid gut mycobiome resembled that from ancient Mexico. Fungal genera including Aspergillus spp., Penicillium spp., Rasamsonia spp., Byssochlamys spp., Talaromyces spp., Blastomyces spp., Monascus spp., and Penicilliopsis spp. were differentially abundant in the ancient and extant populations. Despite cultural differences, certain fungal taxa were present in all samples. These results suggest that culture and diet may impact the gut mycobiome and emphasize that modern lifestyles could be associated with the alteration of gut mycobiome diversity. The present study presents data on ancient and extant human gut mycobiomes in terms of lifestyle, ethnicity, and diet in the Americas.

RevDate: 2022-04-25
CmpDate: 2022-04-25

Messelodi D, Giuliani C, Cipriani F, et al (2022)

C5 and SRGAP3 Polymorphisms Are Linked to Paediatric Allergic Asthma in the Italian Population.

Genes, 13(2):.

Asthma is a complex and heterogeneous disease, caused by the interaction between genetic and environmental factors with a predominant allergic background in children. The role of specific genes in asthmatic bronchial reactivity is still not clear, probably because of the many common pathways shared with other allergic disorders. This study is focused on 11 SNPs possibly related to asthma that were previously identified in a GWAS study. The genetic variability of these SNPs has been analysed in a population of 773 Italian healthy controls, and the presence of an association between the polymorphisms and the asthma onset was evaluated performing genotyping analysis on 108 children affected with asthma compared with the controls. Moreover, a pool of 171 patients with only allergic rhinoconjunctivitis has been included in the case-control analysis. The comparison of allele frequencies in asthmatic patients versus healthy controls identified two SNPs-rs1162394 (p = 0.019) and rs25681 (p = 0.044)-associated with the asthmatic condition, which were not differentially distributed in the rhinoconjunctivitis group. The rs25681 SNP, together with three other SNPs, also resulted in not being homogenously distributed in the Italian population. The significantly higher frequency of the rs25681 and rs1162394 SNPs (located, respectively, in the C5 and SRGAP3 genes) in the asthmatic population suggests an involvement of these genes in the asthmatic context, playing a role in increasing the inflammatory condition that may influence asthma onset and clinical course.

RevDate: 2022-04-25
CmpDate: 2022-04-25

Loreille O, Tillmar A, Brandhagen MD, et al (2022)

Improved DNA Extraction and Illumina Sequencing of DNA Recovered from Aged Rootless Hair Shafts Found in Relics Associated with the Romanov Family.

Genes, 13(2):.

This study describes an optimized DNA extraction protocol targeting ultrashort DNA molecules from single rootless hairs. It was applied to the oldest samples available to us: locks of hairs that were found in relics associated with the Romanov family. Published mitochondrial DNA genome sequences of Tsar Nicholas II and his wife, Tsarina Alexandra, made these samples ideal to assess this DNA extraction protocol and evaluate the types of genetic information that can be recovered by sequencing ultrashort fragments. Using this method, the mtGenome of the Tsarina's lineage was identified in hairs that were concealed in a pendant made by Karl Fabergé for Alexandra Feodorovna Romanov. In addition, to determine if the lock originated from more than one individual, two hairs from the locket were extracted independently and converted into Illumina libraries for shotgun sequencing on a NextSeq 500 platform. From these data, autosomal SNPs were analyzed to assess relatedness. The results indicated that the two hairs came from a single individual. Genetic testing of hairs that were found in the second artifact, a framed photograph of Louise of Hesse-Kassel, Queen of Denmark and maternal grandmother of Tsar Nicholas II, revealed that the hair belonged to a woman who shared Tsar Nicholas' maternal lineage, including the well-known point heteroplasmy at position 16169.

RevDate: 2022-04-25
CmpDate: 2022-04-25

Niiranen L, Leciej D, Edlund H, et al (2022)

Epigenomic Modifications in Modern and Ancient Genomes.

Genes, 13(2):.

Epigenetic changes have been identified as a major driver of fundamental metabolic pathways. More specifically, the importance of epigenetic regulatory mechanisms for biological processes like speciation and embryogenesis has been well documented and revealed the direct link between epigenetic modifications and various diseases. In this review, we focus on epigenetic changes in animals with special attention on human DNA methylation utilizing ancient and modern genomes. Acknowledging the latest developments in ancient DNA research, we further discuss paleoepigenomic approaches as the only means to infer epigenetic changes in the past. Investigating genome-wide methylation patterns of ancient humans may ultimately yield in a more comprehensive understanding of how our ancestors have adapted to the changing environment, and modified their lifestyles accordingly. We discuss the difficulties of working with ancient DNA in particular utilizing paleoepigenomic approaches, and assess new paleoepigenomic data, which might be helpful in future studies.

RevDate: 2022-03-11
CmpDate: 2022-03-11

Wohns AW, Wong Y, Jeffery B, et al (2022)

A unified genealogy of modern and ancient genomes.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 375(6583):eabi8264.

The sequencing of modern and ancient genomes from around the world has revolutionized our understanding of human history and evolution. However, the problem of how best to characterize ancestral relationships from the totality of human genomic variation remains unsolved. Here, we address this challenge with nonparametric methods that enable us to infer a unified genealogy of modern and ancient humans. This compact representation of multiple datasets explores the challenges of missing and erroneous data and uses ancient samples to constrain and date relationships. We demonstrate the power of the method to recover relationships between individuals and populations as well as to identify descendants of ancient samples. Finally, we introduce a simple nonparametric estimator of the geographical location of ancestors that recapitulates key events in human history.

RevDate: 2022-04-18
CmpDate: 2022-04-15

Lipson M, Sawchuk EA, Thompson JC, et al (2022)

Ancient DNA and deep population structure in sub-Saharan African foragers.

Nature, 603(7900):290-296.

Multiple lines of genetic and archaeological evidence suggest that there were major demographic changes in the terminal Late Pleistocene epoch and early Holocene epoch of sub-Saharan Africa1-4. Inferences about this period are challenging to make because demographic shifts in the past 5,000 years have obscured the structures of more ancient populations3,5. Here we present genome-wide ancient DNA data for six individuals from eastern and south-central Africa spanning the past approximately 18,000 years (doubling the time depth of sub-Saharan African ancient DNA), increase the data quality for 15 previously published ancient individuals and analyse these alongside data from 13 other published ancient individuals. The ancestry of the individuals in our study area can be modelled as a geographically structured mixture of three highly divergent source populations, probably reflecting Pleistocene interactions around 80-20 thousand years ago, including deeply diverged eastern and southern African lineages, plus a previously unappreciated ubiquitous distribution of ancestry that occurs in highest proportion today in central African rainforest hunter-gatherers. Once established, this structure remained highly stable, with limited long-range gene flow. These results provide a new line of genetic evidence in support of hypotheses that have emerged from archaeological analyses but remain contested, suggesting increasing regionalization at the end of the Pleistocene epoch.

RevDate: 2022-02-24

Anonymous (2022)

Ancient DNA illuminates how humans travelled and interacted in Stone Age Africa.

RevDate: 2022-05-17
CmpDate: 2022-05-17

Cuenca-Cambronero M, Courtney-Mustaphi CJ, Greenway R, et al (2022)

An integrative paleolimnological approach for studying evolutionary processes.

Trends in ecology & evolution, 37(6):488-496.

The field of paleolimnology has made tremendous progress in reconstructing past biotic and abiotic environmental conditions of aquatic ecosystems based on sediment records. This, together with the rapid development of molecular technologies, provides new opportunities for studying evolutionary processes affecting lacustrine communities over multicentennial to millennial timescales. From an evolutionary perspective, such analyses provide important insights into the chronology of past environmental conditions, the dynamics of phenotypic evolution, and species diversification. Here, we review recent advances in paleolimnological, paleogenetic, and molecular approaches and highlight how their integrative use can help us better understand the ecological and evolutionary responses of species and communities to environmental change.

RevDate: 2022-03-04

Jiménez-Mena B, Flávio H, Henriques R, et al (2022)

Fishing for DNA? Designing baits for population genetics in target enrichment experiments: Guidelines, considerations and the new tool supeRbaits.

Molecular ecology resources [Epub ahead of print].

Targeted sequencing is an increasingly popular next-generation sequencing (NGS) approach for studying populations that involves focusing sequencing efforts on specific parts of the genome of a species of interest. Methodologies and tools for designing targeted baits are scarce but in high demand. Here, we present specific guidelines and considerations for designing capture sequencing experiments for population genetics for both neutral genomic regions and regions subject to selection. We describe the bait design process for three diverse fish species: Atlantic salmon, Atlantic cod and tiger shark, which was carried out in our research group, and provide an evaluation of the performance of our approach across both historical and modern samples. The workflow used for designing these three bait sets has been implemented in the R-package supeRbaits, which encompasses our considerations and guidelines for bait design for the benefit of researchers and practitioners. The supeRbaits R-package is user-friendly and versatile. It is written in C++ and implemented in R. supeRbaits and its manual are available from Github:

RevDate: 2022-02-25
CmpDate: 2022-02-25

Rauf S, Austin JJ, Higgins D, et al (2022)

Unveiling forensically relevant biogeographic, phenotype and Y-chromosome SNP variation in Pakistani ethnic groups using a customized hybridisation enrichment forensic intelligence panel.

PloS one, 17(2):e0264125.

Massively parallel sequencing following hybridisation enrichment provides new opportunities to obtain genetic data for various types of forensic testing and has proven successful on modern as well as degraded and ancient DNA. A customisable forensic intelligence panel that targeted 124 SNP markers (67 ancestry informative markers, 23 phenotype markers from the HIrisplex panel, and 35 Y-chromosome SNPs) was used to examine biogeographic ancestry, phenotype and sex and Y-lineage in samples from different ethnic populations of Pakistan including Pothwari, Gilgit, Baloach, Pathan, Kashmiri and Siraiki. Targeted sequencing and computational data analysis pipeline allowed filtering of variants across the targeted loci. Study samples showed an admixture between East Asian and European ancestry. Eye colour was predicted accurately based on the highest p-value giving overall prediction accuracy of 92.8%. Predictions were consistent with reported hair colour for all samples, using the combined highest p-value approach and step-wise model incorporating probability thresholds for light or dark shade. Y-SNPs were successfully recovered only from male samples which indicates the ability of this method to identify biological sex and allow inference of Y-haplogroup. Our results demonstrate practicality of using hybridisation enrichment and MPS to aid in human intelligence gathering and will open many insights into forensic research in South Asia.

RevDate: 2022-02-23

Stone AC (2022)

Genomes in motionOrigin: A Genetic History of the Americas Jennifer Raff Twelve, 2022. 368 pp.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 375(6582):727.

Ancient DNA sheds light on the peopling of the Americas.

RevDate: 2022-03-09
CmpDate: 2022-03-09

Antkowiak PL, Koch J, Rzepka P, et al (2022)

Anhydrous calcium phosphate crystals stabilize DNA for dry storage.

Chemical communications (Cambridge, England), 58(19):3174-3177.

The resilience of ancient DNA (aDNA) in bone gives rise to the preservation of synthetic DNA with bioinorganic materials such as calcium phosphate (CaP). Accelerated aging experiments at elevated temperature and humidity displayed a positive effect of co-precipitated, crystalline dicalcium phosphate on the stability of synthetic DNA in contrast to amorphous CaP. Quantitative PXRD in combination with SEM and EDX measurements revealed distinct CaP phase transformations of calcium phosphate dihydrate (brushite) to anhydrous dicalcium phosphate (monetite) influencing DNA stability.

RevDate: 2022-02-22
CmpDate: 2022-02-22

Oh CS, Seo M, Lee HJ, et al (2022)


The Journal of parasitology, 108(1):70-78.

Although Clonorchis sinensis is a parasite that still infects many people in East Asia, its genetics remain largely unknown. We conducted ancient DNA analysis of C. sinensis eggs obtained from a Joseon period mummy newly discovered in South Korea. Clonorchis sinensis DNA was amplified for internal transcribed spacer 1, cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1, and NADH dehydrogenase subunit 2 and 5 genes. The results of BLAST/NCBI showed that the consensus sequences were 98.24 to 100% identical to the modern and ancient C. sinensis sequences reported from Korea, China, Japan, and other Asian countries. Our report helps to fill in the genetic profile of ancient C. sinensis strains that infected East Asian people hundreds of years ago.

RevDate: 2022-03-28
CmpDate: 2022-03-28

Li J, Zhao B, Huang T, et al (2022)

Human BRCA pathogenic variants were originated during recent human history.

Life science alliance, 5(5):.

BRCA1 and BRCA2 (BRCA) play essential roles in maintaining genome stability. BRCA germline pathogenic variants increase cancer risk. However, the evolutionary origin of human BRCA pathogenic variants remains largely elusive. We tested the 2,972 human BRCA1 and 3,652 human BRCA2 pathogenic variants from ClinVar database in 100 vertebrates across eight clades, but failed to find evidence to show cross-species evolution conservation as the origin; we searched the variants in 2,792 ancient human genome data, and identified 28 BRCA1 and 22 BRCA2 pathogenic variants in 44 cases dated from 45,000 to 300 yr ago; we analyzed the haplotype-dated human BRCA pathogenic founder variants, and observed that they were mostly arisen within the past 3,000 yr; we traced ethnic distribution of human BRCA pathogenic variants, and found that the majority were present in single or a few ethnic populations. Based on the data, we propose that human BRCA pathogenic variants were highly likely arisen in recent human history after the latest out-of-Africa migration, and the expansion of modern human population could largely increase the variation spectrum.

RevDate: 2022-04-18
CmpDate: 2022-03-16

Izdebski A, Guzowski P, Poniat R, et al (2022)

Palaeoecological data indicates land-use changes across Europe linked to spatial heterogeneity in mortality during the Black Death pandemic.

Nature ecology & evolution, 6(3):297-306.

The Black Death (1347-1352 CE) is the most renowned pandemic in human history, believed by many to have killed half of Europe's population. However, despite advances in ancient DNA research that conclusively identified the pandemic's causative agent (bacterium Yersinia pestis), our knowledge of the Black Death remains limited, based primarily on qualitative remarks in medieval written sources available for some areas of Western Europe. Here, we remedy this situation by applying a pioneering new approach, 'big data palaeoecology', which, starting from palynological data, evaluates the scale of the Black Death's mortality on a regional scale across Europe. We collected pollen data on landscape change from 261 radiocarbon-dated coring sites (lakes and wetlands) located across 19 modern-day European countries. We used two independent methods of analysis to evaluate whether the changes we see in the landscape at the time of the Black Death agree with the hypothesis that a large portion of the population, upwards of half, died within a few years in the 21 historical regions we studied. While we can confirm that the Black Death had a devastating impact in some regions, we found that it had negligible or no impact in others. These inter-regional differences in the Black Death's mortality across Europe demonstrate the significance of cultural, ecological, economic, societal and climatic factors that mediated the dissemination and impact of the disease. The complex interplay of these factors, along with the historical ecology of plague, should be a focus of future research on historical pandemics.

RevDate: 2022-03-14
CmpDate: 2022-03-14

Dulias K, Foody MGB, Justeau P, et al (2022)

Ancient DNA at the edge of the world: Continental immigration and the persistence of Neolithic male lineages in Bronze Age Orkney.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 119(8):.

Orkney was a major cultural center during the Neolithic, 3800 to 2500 BC. Farming flourished, permanent stone settlements and chambered tombs were constructed, and long-range contacts were sustained. From ∼3200 BC, the number, density, and extravagance of settlements increased, and new ceremonial monuments and ceramic styles, possibly originating in Orkney, spread across Britain and Ireland. By ∼2800 BC, this phenomenon was waning, although Neolithic traditions persisted to at least 2500 BC. Unlike elsewhere in Britain, there is little material evidence to suggest a Beaker presence, suggesting that Orkney may have developed along an insular trajectory during the second millennium BC. We tested this by comparing new genomic evidence from 22 Bronze Age and 3 Iron Age burials in northwest Orkney with Neolithic burials from across the archipelago. We identified signals of inward migration on a scale unsuspected from the archaeological record: As elsewhere in Bronze Age Britain, much of the population displayed significant genome-wide ancestry deriving ultimately from the Pontic-Caspian Steppe. However, uniquely in northern and central Europe, most of the male lineages were inherited from the local Neolithic. This suggests that some male descendants of Neolithic Orkney may have remained distinct well into the Bronze Age, although there are signs that this had dwindled by the Iron Age. Furthermore, although the majority of mitochondrial DNA lineages evidently arrived afresh with the Bronze Age, we also find evidence for continuity in the female line of descent from Mesolithic Britain into the Bronze Age and even to the present day.

RevDate: 2022-05-02
CmpDate: 2022-05-02

Kearns AM, Campana MG, Slikas B, et al (2022)

Conservation genomics and systematics of a near-extinct island radiation.

Molecular ecology, 31(7):1995-2012.

Conservation benefits from incorporating genomics to explore the impacts of population declines, inbreeding, loss of genetic variation and hybridization. Here we use the near-extinct Mariana Islands reedwarbler radiation to showcase how ancient DNA approaches can allow insights into the population dynamics of extinct species and threatened populations for which historical museum specimens or material with low DNA yield (e.g., scats, feathers) are the only sources for DNA. Despite their having paraphyletic mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), nuclear single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) support the distinctiveness of critically endangered Acrocephalus hiwae and the other three species in the radiation that went extinct between the 1960s and 1990s. Two extinct species, A. yamashinae and A. luscinius, were deeply divergent from each other and from a third less differentiated lineage containing A. hiwae and extinct A. nijoi. Both mtDNA and SNPs suggest that the two isolated populations of A. hiwae from Saipan and Alamagan Islands are sufficiently distinct to warrant subspecies recognition and separate conservation management. We detected no significant differences in genetic diversity or inbreeding between Saipan and Alamagan, nor strong signatures of geographical structuring within either island. However, the implications of possible signatures of inbreeding in both Saipan and Alamagan, and long-term population declines in A. hiwae that pre-date modern anthropogenic threats require further study with denser population sampling. Our study highlights the value that conservation genomics studies of island radiations have as windows onto the possible future for the world's biota as climate change and habitat destruction increasingly fragment their ranges and contribute to rapid declines in population abundances.

RevDate: 2022-04-05
CmpDate: 2022-04-04

Guellil M, Keller M, Dittmar JM, et al (2022)

An invasive Haemophilus influenzae serotype b infection in an Anglo-Saxon plague victim.

Genome biology, 23(1):22.

BACKGROUND: The human pathogen Haemophilus influenzae was the main cause of bacterial meningitis in children and a major cause of worldwide infant mortality before the introduction of a vaccine in the 1980s. Although the occurrence of serotype b (Hib), the most virulent type of H. influenzae, has since decreased, reports of infections with other serotypes and non-typeable strains are on the rise. While non-typeable strains have been studied in-depth, very little is known of the pathogen's evolutionary history, and no genomes dating prior to 1940 were available.

RESULTS: We describe a Hib genome isolated from a 6-year-old Anglo-Saxon plague victim, from approximately 540 to 550 CE, Edix Hill, England, showing signs of invasive infection on its skeleton. We find that the genome clusters in phylogenetic division II with Hib strain NCTC8468, which also caused invasive disease. While the virulence profile of our genome was distinct, its genomic similarity to NCTC8468 points to mostly clonal evolution of the clade since the 6th century. We also reconstruct a partial Yersinia pestis genome, which is likely identical to a published first plague pandemic genome of Edix Hill.

CONCLUSIONS: Our study presents the earliest genomic evidence for H. influenzae, points to the potential presence of larger genomic diversity in the phylogenetic division II serotype b clade in the past, and allows the first insights into the evolutionary history of this major human pathogen. The identification of both plague and Hib opens questions on the effect of plague in immunocompromised individuals already affected by infectious diseases.

RevDate: 2022-04-30

Westbury MV, Barnett R, Sandoval-Velasco M, et al (2021)

A genomic exploration of the early evolution of extant cats and their sabre-toothed relatives [version 2; peer review: 2 approved].

Open research Europe, 1:25.

BACKGROUND: The evolutionary relationships of Felidae during their Early-Middle Miocene radiation is contentious. Although the early common ancestors have been subsumed under the grade-group Pseudaelurus, this group is thought to be paraphyletic, including the early ancestors of both modern cats and extinct sabretooths.

METHODS: Here, we sequenced a draft nuclear genome of Smilodon populator, dated to 13,182 ± 90 cal BP, making this the oldest palaeogenome from South America to date, a region known to be problematic for ancient DNA preservation. We analysed this genome, together with genomes from other extinct and extant cats to investigate their phylogenetic relationships.

RESULTS: We confirm a deep divergence (~20.65 Ma) within sabretoothed cats. Through the analysis of both simulated and empirical data, we show a lack of gene flow between Smilodon and contemporary Felidae.

CONCLUSIONS: Given that some species traditionally assigned to Pseudaelurus originated in the Early Miocene ~20 Ma, this indicates that some species of Pseudaelurus may be younger than the lineages they purportedly gave rise to, further supporting the hypothesis that Pseudaelurus was paraphyletic.

RevDate: 2022-04-11
CmpDate: 2022-04-11

Plassais J, vonHoldt BM, Parker HG, et al (2022)

Natural and human-driven selection of a single non-coding body size variant in ancient and modern canids.

Current biology : CB, 32(4):889-897.e9.

Domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) are the most variable-sized mammalian species on Earth, displaying a 40-fold size difference between breeds.1 Although dogs of variable size are found in the archeological record,2-4 the most dramatic shifts in body size are the result of selection over the last two centuries, as dog breeders selected and propagated phenotypic extremes within closed breeding populations.5 Analyses of over 200 domestic breeds have identified approximately 20 body size genes regulating insulin processing, fatty acid metabolism, TGFβ signaling, and skeletal formation.6-10 Of these, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) predominates, controlling approximately 15% of body size variation between breeds.8 The identification of a functional mutation associated with IGF1 has thus far proven elusive.6,10,11 Here, to identify and elucidate the role of an ancestral IGF1 allele in the propagation of modern canids, we analyzed 1,431 genome sequences from 13 species, including both ancient and modern canids, thus allowing us to define the evolutionary history of both ancestral and derived alleles at this locus. We identified a single variant in an antisense long non-coding RNA (IGF1-AS) that interacts with the IGF1 gene, creating a duplex. While the derived mutation predominates in both modern gray wolves and large domestic breeds, the ancestral allele, which predisposes to small size, was common in small-sized breeds and smaller wild canids. Our analyses demonstrate that this major regulator of canid body size nearly vanished in Pleistocene wolves, before its recent resurgence resulting from human-imposed selection for small-sized breed dogs.

RevDate: 2022-04-01
CmpDate: 2022-03-31

Martiniano R, De Sanctis B, Hallast P, et al (2022)

Placing Ancient DNA Sequences into Reference Phylogenies.

Molecular biology and evolution, 39(2):.

Joint phylogenetic analysis of ancient DNA (aDNA) with modern phylogenies is hampered by low sequence coverage and post-mortem deamination, often resulting in overconservative or incorrect assignment. We provide a new efficient likelihood-based workflow, pathPhynder, that takes advantage of all the polymorphic sites in the target sequence. This effectively evaluates the number of ancestral and derived alleles present on each branch and reports the most likely placement of an ancient sample in the phylogeny and a haplogroup assignment, together with alternatives and supporting evidence. To illustrate the application of pathPhynder, we show improved Y chromosome assignments for published aDNA sequences, using a newly compiled Y variation data set (120,908 markers from 2,014 samples) that significantly enhances Y haplogroup assignment for low coverage samples. We apply the method to all published male aDNA samples from Africa, giving new insights into ancient migrations and the relationships between ancient and modern populations. The same software can be used to place samples with large amounts of missing data into other large non-recombining phylogenies such as the mitochondrial tree.

RevDate: 2022-01-29

Nieves-Colón MA (2022)

Anthropological genetic insights on Caribbean population history.

Evolutionary anthropology [Epub ahead of print].

As the last American region settled by humans, yet the first to experience European colonization, the Caribbean islands have a complex history characterized by continuous migration, admixture, and demographic change. In the last 20 years, genetics research has transformed our understanding of Caribbean population history and revisited major debates in Caribbean anthropology, such as those surrounding the first peopling of the Antilles and the relationship between ancient Indigenous communities and present-day islanders. Genetics studies have also contributed novel perspectives for understanding pivotal events in Caribbean post-contact history such as European colonization, the Atlantic Slave Trade, and the Asian Indenture system. Here, I discuss the last 20 years of Caribbean genetics research and emphasize the importance of integrating genetics with interdisciplinary historic, archaeological, and anthropological approaches. Such interdisciplinary research is essential for investigating the dynamic history of the Caribbean and characterizing its impact on the biocultural diversity of present-day Caribbean peoples.

RevDate: 2022-01-22

Yu N, Sun H, Yang J, et al (2021)

The Diesel Tree Sindora glabra Genome Provides Insights Into the Evolution of Oleoresin Biosynthesis.

Frontiers in plant science, 12:794830.

Sindora glabra is an economically important tree that produces abundant oleoresin in the trunk. Here, we present a high-quality chromosome-scale assembly of S. glabra genome by combining Illumina HiSeq, Pacific Biosciences sequencing, and Hi-C technologies. The size of S. glabra genome was 1.11 Gb, with a contig N50 of 1.27 Mb and 31,944 predicted genes. This is the first sequenced genome of the subfamily Caesalpinioideae. As a sister taxon to Papilionoideae, S. glabra underwent an ancient genome triplication shared by core eudicots and further whole-genome duplication shared by early-legume in the last 73.3 million years. S. glabra harbors specific genes and expanded genes largely involved in stress responses and biosynthesis of secondary metabolites. Moreover, 59 terpene backbone biosynthesis genes and 64 terpene synthase genes were identified, which together with co-expressed transcription factors could contribute to the diversity and specificity of terpene compounds and high terpene content in S. glabra stem. In addition, 63 disease resistance NBS-LRR genes were found to be unique in S. glabra genome and their expression levels were correlated with the accumulation of terpene profiles, suggesting potential defense function of terpenes in S. glabra. These together provide new resources for understanding genome evolution and oleoresin production.

RevDate: 2022-01-28

Abondio P, Sarno S, Giuliani C, et al (2021)

Amyloid Precursor Protein A713T Mutation in Calabrian Patients with Alzheimer's Disease: A Population Genomics Approach to Estimate Inheritance from a Common Ancestor.

Biomedicines, 10(1):.

Mutation A713T in the amyloid precursor protein (APP) has been linked to cases of Alzheimer's disease (AD), cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA) and cerebrovascular disease. Despite its rarity, it has been observed in several families from the same geographical area, in the Calabria region in Southern Italy. Genotyping of 720,000 genome-wide SNPs with the HumanOmniExpress BeadChip was performed for six patients that were representative of apparently unrelated Calabrian families, as well as a Belgian subject of Italian descent (all with the same A713T mutation and disease). Their genomic structure and genetic relationships were analyzed. Demographic reconstruction and coalescent theory were applied to estimate the time of the most recent common ancestor (tMRCA) among patients. Results show that all A713T carriers fell into the genetic variability of Southern Italy and were not more closely related to each other than to any other healthy Calabrian individual. However, five out of seven patients shared a 1.7 Mbp-long DNA segment centered on the A713T mutation, making it possible to estimate a tMRCA for its common origin in the Calabrian region dating back over 1000 years. The analysis of affected individuals with methodologies based on human population genomics thus provides informative insights in support of clinical observations and biomedical research.

RevDate: 2022-02-22
CmpDate: 2022-02-22

De Angelis F, Romboni M, Veltre V, et al (2022)

First Glimpse into the Genomic Characterization of People from the Imperial Roman Community of Casal Bertone (Rome, First-Third Centuries AD).

Genes, 13(1):.

This paper aims to provide a first glimpse into the genomic characterization of individuals buried in Casal Bertone (Rome, first-third centuries AD) to gain preliminary insight into the genetic makeup of people who lived near a tannery workshop, fullonica. Therefore, we explored the genetic characteristics of individuals who were putatively recruited as fuller workers outside the Roman population. Moreover, we identified the microbial communities associated with humans to detect microbes associated with the unhealthy environment supposed for such a workshop. We examined five individuals from Casal Bertone for ancient DNA analysis through whole-genome sequencing via a shotgun approach. We conducted multiple investigations to unveil the genetic components featured in the samples studied and their associated microbial communities. We generated reliable whole-genome data for three samples surviving the quality controls. The individuals were descendants of people from North African and the Near East, two of the main foci for tannery and dyeing activity in the past. Our evaluation of the microbes associated with the skeletal samples showed microbes growing in soils with waste products used in the tannery process, indicating that people lived, died, and were buried around places where they worked. In that perspective, the results represent the first genomic characterization of fullers from the past. This analysis broadens our knowledge about the presence of multiple ancestries in Imperial Rome, marking a starting point for future data integration as part of interdisciplinary research on human mobility and the bio-cultural characteristics of people employed in dedicated workshops.

RevDate: 2022-02-22
CmpDate: 2022-02-22

Zavala EI, Thomas JT, Sturk-Andreaggi K, et al (2022)

Ancient DNA Methods Improve Forensic DNA Profiling of Korean War and World War II Unknowns.

Genes, 13(1):.

The integration of massively parallel sequencing (MPS) technology into forensic casework has been of particular benefit to the identification of unknown military service members. However, highly degraded or chemically treated skeletal remains often fail to provide usable DNA profiles, even with sensitive mitochondrial (mt) DNA capture and MPS methods. In parallel, the ancient DNA field has developed workflows specifically for degraded DNA, resulting in the successful recovery of nuclear DNA and mtDNA from skeletal remains as well as sediment over 100,000 years old. In this study we use a set of disinterred skeletal remains from the Korean War and World War II to test if ancient DNA extraction and library preparation methods improve forensic DNA profiling. We identified an ancient DNA extraction protocol that resulted in the recovery of significantly more human mtDNA fragments than protocols previously used in casework. In addition, utilizing single-stranded rather than double-stranded library preparation resulted in increased attainment of reportable mtDNA profiles. This study emphasizes that the combination of ancient DNA extraction and library preparation methods evaluated here increases the success rate of DNA profiling, and likelihood of identifying historical remains.

RevDate: 2022-02-22
CmpDate: 2022-02-22

Deng MX, Xiao B, Yuan JX, et al (2022)

Ancient Mitogenomes Suggest Stable Mitochondrial Clades of the Siberian Roe Deer.

Genes, 13(1):.

The roe deer (Capreolus spp.) has been present in China since the early Pleistocene. Despite abundant fossils available for detailed morphological analyses, little is known about the phylogenetic relationships of the fossil individuals to contemporary roe deer. We generated near-complete mitochondrial genomes for four roe deer remains from Northeastern China to explore the genetic connection of the ancient roe deer to the extant populations and to investigate the evolutionary history and population dynamics of this species. Phylogenetic analyses indicated the four ancient samples fall into three out of four different haplogroups of the Siberian roe deer. Haplogroup C, distributed throughout Eurasia, have existed in Northeastern China since at least the Late Pleistocene, while haplogroup A and D, found in the east of Lake Baikal, emerged in Northeastern China after the Mid Holocene. The Bayesian estimation suggested that the first split within the Siberian roe deer occurred approximately 0.34 million years ago (Ma). Moreover, Bayesian skyline plot analyses suggested that the Siberian roe deer had a population increase between 325 and 225 thousand years ago (Kya) and suffered a transient decline between 50 and 18 Kya. This study provides novel insights into the evolutionary history and population dynamics of the roe deer.

RevDate: 2022-02-07

Capo E, Monchamp ME, Coolen MJL, et al (2022)

Environmental paleomicrobiology: using DNA preserved in aquatic sediments to its full potential.

Environmental microbiology [Epub ahead of print].

In-depth knowledge about spatial and temporal variation in microbial diversity and function is needed for a better understanding of ecological and evolutionary responses to global change. In particular, the study of microbial ancient DNA preserved in sediment archives from lakes and oceans can help us to evaluate the responses of aquatic microbes in the past and make predictions about future biodiversity change in those ecosystems. Recent advances in molecular genetic methods applied to the analysis of historically deposited DNA in sediments have not only allowed the taxonomic identification of past aquatic microbial communities but also enabled tracing their evolution and adaptation to episodic disturbances and gradual environmental change. Nevertheless, some challenges remain for scientists to take full advantage of the rapidly developing field of paleo-genetics, including the limited ability to detect rare taxa and reconstruct complete genomes for evolutionary studies. Here, we provide a brief review of some of the recent advances in the field of environmental paleomicrobiology and discuss remaining challenges related to the application of molecular genetic methods to study microbial diversity, ecology, and evolution in sediment archives. We anticipate that, in the near future, environmental paleomicrobiology will shed new light on the processes of microbial genome evolution and microbial ecosystem responses to quaternary environmental changes at an unprecedented level of detail. This information can, for example, aid geological reconstructions of biogeochemical cycles and predict ecosystem responses to environmental perturbations, including in the context of human-induced global changes.

RevDate: 2022-01-21

Handsley-Davis M, Skelly E, Johnson NW, et al (2021)

Biocultural Drivers of Salivary Microbiota in Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children.

Frontiers in oral health, 2:641328.

Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experience unacceptably high rates of dental caries compared to their non-Indigenous Australian counterparts. Dental caries significantly impacts the quality of life of children and their families, particularly in remote communities. While many socioeconomic and lifestyle factors impact caries risk, the central role of the oral microbiota in mediating dental caries has not been extensively investigated in these communities. Here, we examine factors that shape diversity and composition of the salivary microbiota in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adolescents living in the remote Northern Peninsula Area (NPA) of Far North Queensland. We employed 16S ribosomal RNA amplicon sequencing to profile bacteria present in saliva collected from 205 individuals aged 4-17 years from the NPA. Higher average microbial diversity was generally linked to increased age and salivary pH, less frequent toothbrushing, and proxies for lower socioeconomic status (SES). Differences in microbial composition were significantly related to age, salivary pH, SES proxies, and active dental caries. Notably, a feature classified as Streptococcus sobrinus increased in abundance in children who reported less frequent tooth brushing. A specific Veillonella feature was associated with caries presence, while features classified as Actinobacillus/Haemophilus and Leptotrichia were associated with absence of caries; a Lactobacillus gasseri feature increased in abundance in severe caries. Finally, we statistically assessed the interplay between dental caries and caries risk factors in shaping the oral microbiota. These data provide a detailed understanding of biological, behavioral, and socioeconomic factors that shape the oral microbiota and may underpin caries development in this group. This information can be used in the future to improve tailored caries prevention and management options for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and communities.

RevDate: 2022-03-21
CmpDate: 2022-03-21

Stuart KC, Sherwin WB, Austin JJ, et al (2022)

Historical museum samples enable the examination of divergent and parallel evolution during invasion.

Molecular ecology, 31(6):1836-1852.

During the Anthropocene, Earth has experienced unprecedented habitat loss, native species decline and global climate change. Concurrently, greater globalization is facilitating species movement, increasing the likelihood of alien species establishment and propagation. There is a great need to understand what influences a species' ability to persist or perish within a new or changing environment. Examining genes that may be associated with a species' invasion success or persistence informs invasive species management, assists with native species preservation and sheds light on important evolutionary mechanisms that occur in novel environments. This approach can be aided by coupling spatial and temporal investigations of evolutionary processes. Here we use the common starling, Sturnus vulgaris, to identify parallel and divergent evolutionary change between contemporary native and invasive range samples and their common ancestral population. To do this, we use reduced-representation sequencing of native samples collected recently in northwestern Europe and invasive samples from Australia, together with museum specimens sampled in the UK during the mid-19th century. We found evidence of parallel selection on both continents, possibly resulting from common global selective forces such as exposure to pollutants. We also identified divergent selection in these populations, which might be related to adaptive changes in response to the novel environment encountered in the introduced Australian range. Interestingly, signatures of selection are equally as common within both invasive and native range contemporary samples. Our results demonstrate the value of including historical samples in genetic studies of invasion and highlight the ongoing and occasionally parallel role of adaptation in both native and invasive ranges.

RevDate: 2022-04-01
CmpDate: 2022-03-31

Aneli S, Saupe T, Montinaro F, et al (2022)

The Genetic Origin of Daunians and the Pan-Mediterranean Southern Italian Iron Age Context.

Molecular biology and evolution, 39(2):.

The geographical location and shape of Apulia, a narrow land stretching out in the sea at the South of Italy, made this region a Mediterranean crossroads connecting Western Europe and the Balkans. Such movements culminated at the beginning of the Iron Age with the Iapygian civilization which consisted of three cultures: Peucetians, Messapians, and Daunians. Among them, the Daunians left a peculiar cultural heritage, with one-of-a-kind stelae and pottery, but, despite the extensive archaeological literature, their origin has been lost to time. In order to shed light on this and to provide a genetic picture of Iron Age Southern Italy, we collected and sequenced human remains from three archaeological sites geographically located in Northern Apulia (the area historically inhabited by Daunians) and radiocarbon dated between 1157 and 275 calBCE. We find that Iron Age Apulian samples are still distant from the genetic variability of modern-day Apulians, they show a degree of genetic heterogeneity comparable with the cosmopolitan Republican and Imperial Roman civilization, even though a few kilometers and centuries separate them, and they are well inserted into the Iron Age Pan-Mediterranean genetic landscape. Our study provides for the first time a window on the genetic make-up of pre-Roman Apulia, whose increasing connectivity within the Mediterranean landscape, would have contributed to laying the foundation for modern genetic variability. In this light, the genetic profile of Daunians may be compatible with an at least partial autochthonous origin, with plausible contributions from the Balkan peninsula.

RevDate: 2022-05-02
CmpDate: 2022-05-02

Rayo E, Ferrari G, Neukamm J, et al (2022)

Non-destructive extraction of DNA from preserved tissues in medical collections.

BioTechniques, 72(2):60-64.

Museum specimens and histologically fixed material are valuable samples for the study of historical soft tissues and represent a possible pathogen-specific source for retrospective molecular investigations. However, current methods for molecular analysis are inherently destructive, posing a dilemma between performing a study with the available technology, thus damaging the sample, and conserving the material for future investigations. Here the authors present the first tests of a non-destructive alternative that facilitates genetic analysis of fixed wet tissues while avoiding tissue damage. The authors extracted DNA from the fixed tissues as well as their embedding fixative solution, to quantify the DNA that was transferred to the liquid component. The results show that human historical DNA can be retrieved from the fixative material of medical specimens and provide new options for sampling valuable collections.

RevDate: 2022-04-11
CmpDate: 2022-04-11

Murchie TJ, Karpinski E, Eaton K, et al (2022)

Pleistocene mitogenomes reconstructed from the environmental DNA of permafrost sediments.

Current biology : CB, 32(4):851-860.e7.

Traditionally, paleontologists have relied on the morphological features of bones and teeth to reconstruct the evolutionary relationships of extinct animals.1 In recent decades, the analysis of ancient DNA recovered from macrofossils has provided a powerful means to evaluate these hypotheses and develop novel phylogenetic models.2 Although a great deal of life history data can be extracted from bones, their scarcity and associated biases limit their information potential. The paleontological record of Beringia3-the unglaciated areas and former land bridge between northeast Eurasia and northwest North America-is relatively robust thanks to its perennially frozen ground favoring fossil preservation.4,5 However, even here, the macrofossil record is significantly lacking in small-bodied fauna (e.g., rodents and birds), whereas questions related to migration and extirpation, even among well-studied taxa, remain crudely resolved. The growing sophistication of ancient environmental DNA (eDNA) methods have allowed for the identification of species within terrestrial/aquatic ecosystems,6-12 in paleodietary reconstructions,13-19 and facilitated genomic reconstructions from cave contexts.8,20-22 Murchie et al.6,23 used a capture enrichment approach to sequence a diverse range of faunal and floral DNA from permafrost silts deposited during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition.24 Here, we expand on their work with the mitogenomic assembly and phylogenetic placement of Equus caballus (caballine horse), Bison priscus (steppe bison), Mammuthus primigenius (woolly mammoth), and Lagopus lagopus (willow ptarmigan) eDNA from multiple permafrost cores spanning the last 40,000 years. We identify a diverse metagenomic spectra of Pleistocene fauna and identify the eDNA co-occurrence of distinct Eurasian and American mitogenomic lineages.

RevDate: 2022-01-11

Oliva A, Tobler R, Llamas B, et al (2021)

Additional evaluations show that specific BWA-aln settings still outperform BWA-mem for ancient DNA data alignment.

Ecology and evolution, 11(24):18743-18748.

Xu et al. (2021) recently recommended a new parameterization of BWA-mem as a superior alternative to the widely-used BWA-aln algorithm to map ancient DNA sequencing data. Here, we compare the BWA-mem parameterization recommended by Xu et al. with the best-performing alignment methods determined in the recent benchmarks of Oliva and colleagues (2021), demonstrating that BWA-aln is still the gold-standard for ancient DNA read alignment .

RevDate: 2022-01-07

Baleka S, Varela L, Tambusso PS, et al (2022)

Revisiting proboscidean phylogeny and evolution through total evidence and palaeogenetic analyses including Notiomastodon ancient DNA.

iScience, 25(1):103559.

The extinct Gomphotheriidae is the only proboscidean family that colonized South America. The phylogenetic position of the endemic taxa has been through several revisions using morphological comparisons. Morphological studies are enhanced by paleogenetic analyses, a powerful tool to resolve phylogenetic relationships; however, ancient DNA (aDNA) preservation decreases in warmer regions. Despite the poor preservation conditions for aDNA in humid, sub-tropical climates, we recovered ∼3,000 bp of mtDNA of Notiomastodon platensis from the Arroyo del Vizcaíno site, Uruguay. Our calibrated phylogeny places Notiomastodon as a sister taxon to Elephantidae, with a divergence time of ∼13.5 Ma. Additionally, a total evidence analysis combining morphological and paleogenetic data shows that the three most diverse clades within Proboscidea diverged during the early Miocene, coinciding with the formation of a land passage between Africa and Eurasia. Our results are a further step toward aDNA analyses on Pleistocene samples from subtropical regions and provide a framework for proboscidean evolution.

RevDate: 2022-01-07

Sarhan MS, Lehmkuhl A, Straub R, et al (2021)

Ancient DNA diffuses from human bones to cave stones.

iScience, 24(12):103397.

Recent studies have demonstrated the potential to recover ancient human mitochondrial DNA and nuclear DNA from cave sediments. However, the source of such sedimentary ancient DNA is still under discussion. Here we report the case of a Bronze Age human skeleton, found in a limestone cave, which was covered with layers of calcite stone deposits. By analyzing samples representing bones and stone deposits from this cave, we were able to: i) reconstruct the full human mitochondrial genome from the bones and the stones (same haplotype); ii) determine the sex of the individual; iii) reconstruct six ancient bacterial and archaeal genomes; and finally iv) demonstrate better ancient DNA preservation in the stones than in the bones. Thereby, we demonstrate the direct diffusion of human DNA from bones into the surrounding environment and show the potential to reconstruct ancient microbial genomes from such cave deposits, which represent an additional paleoarcheological archive resource.

RevDate: 2022-02-21
CmpDate: 2022-02-21

Massilani D, Morley MW, Mentzer SM, et al (2022)

Microstratigraphic preservation of ancient faunal and hominin DNA in Pleistocene cave sediments.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 119(1):.

Ancient DNA recovered from Pleistocene sediments represents a rich resource for the study of past hominin and environmental diversity. However, little is known about how DNA is preserved in sediments and the extent to which it may be translocated between archaeological strata. Here, we investigate DNA preservation in 47 blocks of resin-impregnated archaeological sediment collected over the last four decades for micromorphological analyses at 13 prehistoric sites in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America and show that such blocks can preserve DNA of hominins and other mammals. Extensive microsampling of sediment blocks from Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains reveals that the taxonomic composition of mammalian DNA differs drastically at the millimeter-scale and that DNA is concentrated in small particles, especially in fragments of bone and feces (coprolites), suggesting that these are substantial sources of DNA in sediments. Three microsamples taken in close proximity in one of the blocks yielded Neanderthal DNA from at least two male individuals closely related to Denisova 5, a Neanderthal toe bone previously recovered from the same layer. Our work indicates that DNA can remain stably localized in sediments over time and provides a means of linking genetic information to the archaeological and ecological records on a microstratigraphic scale.

RevDate: 2022-04-01
CmpDate: 2022-03-31

Pedersen MW, Antunes C, De Cahsan B, et al (2022)

Ancient Human Genomes and Environmental DNA from the Cement Attaching 2,000-Year-Old Head Lice Nits.

Molecular biology and evolution, 39(2):.

Over the past few decades, there has been a growing demand for genome analysis of ancient human remains. Destructive sampling is increasingly difficult to obtain for ethical reasons, and standard methods of breaking the skull to access the petrous bone or sampling remaining teeth are often forbidden for curatorial reasons. However, most ancient humans carried head lice and their eggs abound in historical hair specimens. Here we show that host DNA is protected by the cement that glues head lice nits to the hair of ancient Argentinian mummies, 1,500-2,000 years old. The genetic affinities deciphered from genome-wide analyses of this DNA inform that this population migrated from north-west Amazonia to the Andes of central-west Argentina; a result confirmed using the mitochondria of the host lice. The cement preserves ancient environmental DNA of the skin, including the earliest recorded case of Merkel cell polyomavirus. We found that the percentage of human DNA obtained from nit cement equals human DNA obtained from the tooth, yield 2-fold compared with a petrous bone, and 4-fold to a bloodmeal of adult lice a millennium younger. In metric studies of sheaths, the length of the cement negatively correlates with the age of the specimens, whereas hair linear distance between nit and scalp informs about the environmental conditions at the time before death. Ectoparasitic lice sheaths can offer an alternative, nondestructive source of high-quality ancient DNA from a variety of host taxa where bones and teeth are not available and reveal complementary details of their history.

RevDate: 2022-01-19

Thomas ZA, Mooney S, Cadd H, et al (2022)

Corrigendum to "Late Holocene climate anomaly concurrent with fire activity and ecosystem shifts in the eastern Australian Highlands" [Sci. Total Environ. 802 (2021)149542].

The Science of the total environment, 811:152367.


ESP Quick Facts

ESP Origins

In the early 1990's, Robert Robbins was a faculty member at Johns Hopkins, where he directed the informatics core of GDB — the human gene-mapping database of the international human genome project. To share papers with colleagues around the world, he set up a small paper-sharing section on his personal web page. This small project evolved into The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project.

ESP Support

In 1995, Robbins became the VP/IT of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA. Soon after arriving in Seattle, Robbins secured funding, through the ELSI component of the US Human Genome Project, to create the original ESP.ORG web site, with the formal goal of providing free, world-wide access to the literature of classical genetics.

ESP Rationale

Although the methods of molecular biology can seem almost magical to the uninitiated, the original techniques of classical genetics are readily appreciated by one and all: cross individuals that differ in some inherited trait, collect all of the progeny, score their attributes, and propose mechanisms to explain the patterns of inheritance observed.

ESP Goal

In reading the early works of classical genetics, one is drawn, almost inexorably, into ever more complex models, until molecular explanations begin to seem both necessary and natural. At that point, the tools for understanding genome research are at hand. Assisting readers reach this point was the original goal of The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project.

ESP Usage

Usage of the site grew rapidly and has remained high. Faculty began to use the site for their assigned readings. Other on-line publishers, ranging from The New York Times to Nature referenced ESP materials in their own publications. Nobel laureates (e.g., Joshua Lederberg) regularly used the site and even wrote to suggest changes and improvements.

ESP Content

When the site began, no journals were making their early content available in digital format. As a result, ESP was obliged to digitize classic literature before it could be made available. For many important papers — such as Mendel's original paper or the first genetic map — ESP had to produce entirely new typeset versions of the works, if they were to be available in a high-quality format.

ESP Help

Early support from the DOE component of the Human Genome Project was critically important for getting the ESP project on a firm foundation. Since that funding ended (nearly 20 years ago), the project has been operated as a purely volunteer effort. Anyone wishing to assist in these efforts should send an email to Robbins.

ESP Plans

With the development of methods for adding typeset side notes to PDF files, the ESP project now plans to add annotated versions of some classical papers to its holdings. We also plan to add new reference and pedagogical material. We have already started providing regularly updated, comprehensive bibliographies to the ESP.ORG site.

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Papers in Classical Genetics

The ESP began as an effort to share a handful of key papers from the early days of classical genetics. Now the collection has grown to include hundreds of papers, in full-text format.

Digital Books

Along with papers on classical genetics, ESP offers a collection of full-text digital books, including many works by Darwin (and even a collection of poetry — Chicago Poems by Carl Sandburg).


ESP now offers a much improved and expanded collection of timelines, designed to give the user choice over subject matter and dates.


Biographical information about many key scientists.

Selected Bibliographies

Bibliographies on several topics of potential interest to the ESP community are now being automatically maintained and generated on the ESP site.

ESP Picks from Around the Web (updated 07 JUL 2018 )