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Bibliography on: Paleontology Meets Genomics — Sequencing Ancient DNA

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ESP: PubMed Auto Bibliography 14 Nov 2022 at 02:05 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: 2022-11-08

Kimsis J, Petersone-Gordina E, Poksane A, et al (2022)

Application of natural sciences methodology in archaeological study of Iron Age burials in Latvia: pilot study.

Forensic science, medicine, and pathology [Epub ahead of print].

Natural sciences provide several modern methodologies that could be successfully applied in archaeological studies. In this pilot study, archaeological human remains from two Iron Age cemeteries (7th-twelfth centuries AD), Lejasbitēni and Čunkāni-Dreņģeri, which are located in different regions of Latvia, were studied. We applied ancient DNA (aDNA) and tooth enamel peptide analysis to determine the biological sex of the individuals. In addition, aDNA analysis was used to perform mtDNA haplogroup analysis. In most cases, the results of aDNA analysis regarding the biological sex of individuals coincided with the gender assigned based on grave orientation and grave goods. The results of sex determination using peptide analysis in all four individuals for whom data were available matched the possible gender. Of the 17 samples that had sufficient DNA for sequencing, seven samples had enough reads to perform mtDNA haplogroup analysis. The H2a2a, I4a1, H2a2a1, and H16c mtDNA haplogroups were identified in the individuals from the Lejasbitēni cemetery, while the T2b and K1a + 150 mtDNA haplogroups were identified in the individuals from the Čunkāni-Dreņģeri cemetery. Overall, the obtained results demonstrated the feasibility of applying aDNA and tooth enamel peptide analysis for biological sex determination within archaeological studies. The availability of human aDNA data will be highly useful for investigating the demographic history and social structures in Iron Age Latvia.

RevDate: 2022-11-07

Miszkiewicz JJ, Buckley HR, Feldman M, et al (2022)

Female bone physiology resilience in a past Polynesian Outlier community.

Scientific reports, 12(1):18857.

Remodelling is a fundamental biological process involved in the maintenance of bone physiology and function. We know that a range of health and lifestyle factors can impact this process in living and past societies, but there is a notable gap in bone remodelling data for populations from the Pacific Islands. We conducted the first examination of femoral cortical histology in 69 individuals from ca. 440-150 BP Taumako in Solomon Islands, a remote 'Polynesian Outlier' island in Melanesia. We tested whether bone remodelling indicators differed between age groups, and biological sex validated using ancient DNA. Bone vascular canal and osteon size, vascular porosity, and localised osteon densities, corrected by femoral robusticity indices were examined. Females had statistically significantly higher vascular porosities when compared to males, but osteon densities and ratios of canal-osteon (~ 8%) did not differ between the sexes. Our results indicate that, compared to males, localised femoral bone tissue of the Taumako females did not drastically decline with age, contrary to what is often observed in modern populations. However, our results match findings in other archaeological samples-a testament to past female bone physiology resilience, also now observed in the Pacific region.

RevDate: 2022-11-08
CmpDate: 2022-11-08

Garcés-Pastor S, Coissac E, Lavergne S, et al (2022)

High resolution ancient sedimentary DNA shows that alpine plant diversity is associated with human land use and climate change.

Nature communications, 13(1):6559.

The European Alps are highly rich in species, but their future may be threatened by ongoing changes in human land use and climate. Here, we reconstructed vegetation, temperature, human impact and livestock over the past ~12,000 years from Lake Sulsseewli, based on sedimentary ancient plant and mammal DNA, pollen, spores, chironomids, and microcharcoal. We assembled a highly-complete local DNA reference library (PhyloAlps, 3923 plant taxa), and used this to obtain an exceptionally rich sedaDNA record of 366 plant taxa. Vegetation mainly responded to climate during the early Holocene, while human activity had an additional influence on vegetation from 6 ka onwards. Land-use shifted from episodic grazing during the Neolithic and Bronze Age to agropastoralism in the Middle Ages. Associated human deforestation allowed the coexistence of plant species typically found at different elevational belts, leading to levels of plant richness that characterise the current high diversity of this region. Our findings indicate a positive association between low intensity agropastoral activities and precipitation with the maintenance of the unique subalpine and alpine plant diversity of the European Alps.

RevDate: 2022-11-04

Lord E, Marangoni A, Baca M, et al (2022)

Population dynamics and demographic history of Eurasian collared lemmings.

BMC ecology and evolution, 22(1):126.

BACKGROUND: Ancient DNA studies suggest that Late Pleistocene climatic changes had a significant effect on population dynamics in Arctic species. The Eurasian collared lemming (Dicrostonyx torquatus) is a keystone species in the Arctic ecosystem. Earlier studies have indicated that past climatic fluctuations were important drivers of past population dynamics in this species.

RESULTS: Here, we analysed 59 ancient and 54 modern mitogenomes from across Eurasia, along with one modern nuclear genome. Our results suggest population growth and genetic diversification during the early Late Pleistocene, implying that collared lemmings may have experienced a genetic bottleneck during the warm Eemian interglacial. Furthermore, we find multiple temporally structured mitogenome clades during the Late Pleistocene, consistent with earlier results suggesting a dynamic late glacial population history. Finally, we identify a population in northeastern Siberia that maintained genetic diversity and a constant population size at the end of the Pleistocene, suggesting suitable conditions for collared lemmings in this region during the increasing temperatures associated with the onset of the Holocene.

CONCLUSIONS: This study highlights an influence of past warming, in particular the Eemian interglacial, on the evolutionary history of the collared lemming, along with spatiotemporal population structuring throughout the Late Pleistocene.

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

Gibbons A (2022)

How the Black Death left its mark on immune system genes.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 378(6617):237-238.

Study of DNA from medieval victims and survivors finds gene that helped protect people from deadly pathogen.

RevDate: 2022-11-02

Campelo Dos Santos AL, Owings A, Sullasi HSL, et al (2022)

Genomic evidence for ancient human migration routes along South America's Atlantic coast.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 289(1986):20221078.

An increasing body of archaeological and genomic evidence has hinted at a complex settlement process of the Americas by humans. This is especially true for South America, where unexpected ancestral signals have raised perplexing scenarios for the early migrations into different regions of the continent. Here, we present ancient human genomes from the archaeologically rich Northeast Brazil and compare them to ancient and present-day genomic data. We find a distinct relationship between ancient genomes from Northeast Brazil, Lagoa Santa, Uruguay and Panama, representing evidence for ancient migration routes along South America's Atlantic coast. To further add to the existing complexity, we also detect greater Denisovan than Neanderthal ancestry in ancient Uruguay and Panama individuals. Moreover, we find a strong Australasian signal in an ancient genome from Panama. This work sheds light on the deep demographic history of eastern South America and presents a starting point for future fine-scale investigations on the regional level.

RevDate: 2022-11-02

Hempel E, Bibi F, Faith JT, et al (2022)

Blue turns to grey - Palaeogenomic insights into the evolutionary history and extinction of the blue antelope (Hippotragus leucophaeus).

Molecular biology and evolution pii:6794086 [Epub ahead of print].

The blue antelope (Hippotragus leucophaeus) is the only large African mammal species to have become extinct in historical times, yet no nuclear genomic information is available for this species. A recent study showed that many alleged blue antelope museum specimens are either roan (H. equinus) or sable (H. niger) antelopes, further reducing the possibilities for obtaining genomic information for this extinct species. While the blue antelope has a rich fossil record from South Africa, climatic conditions in the region are generally unfavourable to the preservation of ancient DNA. Nevertheless, we recovered two blue antelope draft genomes, one at 3.4x mean coverage from a historical specimen (∼200 years old) and one at 2.1x mean coverage from a fossil specimen dating to 9,800-9,300 cal years BP, making it currently the oldest palaeogenome from Africa. Phylogenomic analyses show that blue and sable antelope are sister species, confirming previous mitogenomic results, and demonstrate ancient gene flow from roan into blue antelope. We show that blue antelope genomic diversity was much lower than in roan and sable antelopes, indicative of a low population size since at least the early Holocene. This supports observations from the fossil record documenting major decreases in the abundance of blue antelope after the Pleistocene-Holocene transition. Finally, the persistence of this species throughout the Holocene despite low population size suggests that colonial-era human impact was likely a decisive factor in the blue antelope's extinction.

RevDate: 2022-11-01

Souilmi Y, Tobler R, Johar A, et al (2022)

Admixture has obscured signals of historical hard sweeps in humans.

Nature ecology & evolution [Epub ahead of print].

The role of natural selection in shaping biological diversity is an area of intense interest in modern biology. To date, studies of positive selection have primarily relied on genomic datasets from contemporary populations, which are susceptible to confounding factors associated with complex and often unknown aspects of population history. In particular, admixture between diverged populations can distort or hide prior selection events in modern genomes, though this process is not explicitly accounted for in most selection studies despite its apparent ubiquity in humans and other species. Through analyses of ancient and modern human genomes, we show that previously reported Holocene-era admixture has masked more than 50 historic hard sweeps in modern European genomes. Our results imply that this canonical mode of selection has probably been underappreciated in the evolutionary history of humans and suggest that our current understanding of the tempo and mode of selection in natural populations may be inaccurate.

RevDate: 2022-10-31

Mathieson I, J Terhorst (2022)

Direct detection of natural selection in Bronze Age Britain.

Genome research pii:gr.276862.122 [Epub ahead of print].

We developed a novel method for efficiently estimating time-varying selection coefficients from genome-wide ancient DNA data. In simulations, our method accurately recovers selective trajectories, and is robust to mis-specification of population size. We applied it to a large dataset of ancient and present-day human genomes from Britain, and identified seven loci with genome-wide significant evidence of selection in the past 4500 years. Almost all of them can be related to increased vitamin D or calcium levels, suggesting strong selective pressure on these or related phenotypes. However, the strength of selection on individual loci varied substantially over time, suggesting that cultural or environmental factors moderated the genetic response. Of 28 complex anthropometric and metabolic traits, skin pigmentation was the only one with significant evidence of polygenic selection, further underscoring the importance of phenotypes related to vitamin D. Our approach illustrates the power of ancient DNA to characterize selection in human populations and illuminates the recent evolutionary history of Britain.

RevDate: 2022-10-27

Nino Barreat JG, A Katzourakis (2022)

Evolutionary Analysis of Placental Orthologues Reveals Two Ancient DNA Virus Integrations.

Journal of virology [Epub ahead of print].

The genomes of eukaryotes preserve a vast diversity of ancient viruses in the form of endogenous viral elements (EVEs). Study of this genomic fossil record provides insights into the diversity, origin, and evolution of viruses across geological timescales. In particular, Mavericks have emerged as one of the oldest groups of endogenous viruses infecting vertebrates (≥419 million years [My]). They have been found in the genomes of fish, amphibians, birds, and nonavian reptiles but had been overlooked in mammals. Thus, their evolutionary history and the causes of their demise in mammals remain puzzling questions. Here, we conducted a detailed evolutionary study of two Maverick integrations found on human chromosomes 7 and 8. We performed a comparative analysis of the integrations and determined their orthology across placental mammals (Eutheria) via the syntenic arrangement of neighboring genes. The integrations were absent at the orthologous sites in the genomes of marsupials and monotremes. These observations allowed us to reconstruct a time-calibrated phylogeny and infer the age of their most recent common ancestor at 127 to 262 My. In addition, we estimate the age of the individual integrations at ~102 My, which represents the oldest nonretroviral EVEs found in the human genome. Our findings suggest that active Mavericks still existed in the ancestors of modern mammals ~172 My ago (Jurassic Period) and potentially to the end of the Early Cretaceous. We hypothesize that Mavericks could have gone extinct in mammals from the evolution of an antiviral defense system or from reduced opportunities for transmission in terrestrial hosts. IMPORTANCE The genomes of vertebrates preserve a large diversity of endogenous viral elements (remnants of ancient viruses that accumulate in host genomes over evolutionary time). Although retroviruses account for the vast majority of these elements, diverse DNA viruses have also been found and novel lineages are being described. Here, we analyzed two elements found in the human genome belonging to an ancient group of DNA viruses called Mavericks. We studied their evolutionary history, finding that the elements are shared between humans and many different species of placental mammals. These observations suggest that the elements inserted at least ~102 million years ago (Mya) in the most recent common ancestor of placentals. We further estimated the age of the viral ancestor at around 127 to 262 My. Our results provide evidence for some of the oldest viral integrations in the human genome and insights into the ancient interactions of viruses with the ancestors of modern-day mammals.

RevDate: 2022-10-27

Melchionda F, Silvestrini B, Robino C, et al (2022)

Development and Validation of MPS-Based System for Human Appearance Prediction in Challenging Forensic Samples.

Genes, 13(10): pii:genes13101688.

Forensic DNA phenotyping (FDP) provides the ability to predict the human external traits from unknown sample donors, directly from minute amounts of DNA found at the crime scene. We developed a MPS multiplex assay, with the aim of genotyping all 41 DNA markers included in the HIrisPlex-S system for simultaneous prediction of eye, hair and skin colours. Forensic samples such as blood, skeletal remains, touch DNA, saliva swab, artificially degraded samples together with individuals with known phenotypes and a set of 2800 M control DNA were sequenced on the Ion Torrent platform in order to evaluate the concordance testing results and the forensic suitability of the 41-plex MPS assay. The panel was evaluated by testing a different number of PCR cycles and the volume of reagents for library preparation. The study demonstrated that full and reliable profiles were obtained with 0.1-5 ng, even with high degraded DNA. The increment of the number of PCR cycles results in an improvement of correctly genotyping and phenotyping for samples with low amounts of degraded DNA but higher frequencies of artefacts were found. The high DNA degradation level did not influence the correct genotyping and phenotyping and the critical parameter affecting the result is the quantity of input DNA. Eye and hair colour was predicted in 92.60% of individuals and skin colour in 85.15% of individuals. The results suggest that this MPS assay is robust, highly sensitive and useful for human pigmentation prediction in the forensic genetic field.

RevDate: 2022-10-27

Hou X, Zhao J, Zhang H, et al (2022)

Paleogenomes Reveal a Complex Evolutionary History of Late Pleistocene Bison in Northeastern China.

Genes, 13(10): pii:genes13101684.

Steppe bison are a typical representative of the Mid-Late Pleistocene steppes of the northern hemisphere. Despite the abundance of fossil remains, many questions related to their genetic diversity, population structure and dispersal route are still elusive. Here, we present both near-complete and partial mitochondrial genomes, as well as a partial nuclear genome from fossil bison samples excavated from Late Pleistocene strata in northeastern China. Maximum-likelihood and Bayesian trees both suggest the bison clade are divided into three maternal haplogroups (A, B and C), and Chinese individuals fall in two of them. Bayesian analysis shows that the split between haplogroup C and the ancestor of haplogroups A and B dates at 326 ky BP (95% HPD: 397-264 ky BP). In addition, our nuclear phylogenomic tree also supports a basal position for the individual carrying haplogroup C. Admixture analyses suggest that CADG467 (haplogroup C) has a similar genetic structure to steppe bison from Siberia (haplogroup B). Our new findings indicate that the genetic diversity of Pleistocene bison was probably even higher than previously thought and that northeastern Chinese populations of several mammalian species, including Pleistocene bison, were genetically distinct.

RevDate: 2022-10-27

Anonymous (2022)

Ancient DNA reveals how Viking-era fishers helped to make herring scarce.

RevDate: 2022-10-27

Thompson B, S Bundell (2022)

Ancient DNA reveals family of Neanderthals living in Siberian cave.

RevDate: 2022-10-25

Atmore LM, Martínez-García L, Makowiecki D, et al (2022)

Population dynamics of Baltic herring since the Viking Age revealed by ancient DNA and genomics.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 119(45):e2208703119.

The world's oceans are currently facing major stressors in the form of overexploitation and anthropogenic climate change. The Baltic Sea was home to the first "industrial" fishery ∼800 y ago targeting the Baltic herring, a species that is still economically and culturally important today. Yet, the early origins of marine industries and the long-term ecological consequences of historical and contemporary fisheries remain debated. Here, we study long-term population dynamics of Baltic herring to evaluate the past impacts of humans on the marine environment. We combine modern whole-genome data with ancient DNA (aDNA) to identify the earliest-known long-distance herring trade in the region, illustrating that extensive fish trade began during the Viking Age. We further resolve population structure within the Baltic and observe demographic independence for four local herring stocks over at least 200 generations. It has been suggested that overfishing at Øresund in the 16th century resulted in a demographic shift from autumn-spawning to spring-spawning herring dominance in the Baltic. We show that while the Øresund fishery had a negative impact on the western Baltic herring stock, the demographic shift to spring-spawning dominance did not occur until the 20th century. Instead, demographic reconstructions reveal population trajectories consistent with expected impacts of environmental change and historical reports on shifting fishing targets over time. This study illustrates the joint impact of climate change and human exploitation on marine species as well as the role historical ecology can play in conservation and management policies.

RevDate: 2022-10-25

Ibrahim J, Brumfeld V, Addadi Y, et al (2022)

The petrous bone contains high concentrations of osteocytes: One possible reason why ancient DNA is better preserved in this bone.

PloS one, 17(10):e0269348 pii:PONE-D-22-14142.

The characterization of ancient DNA in fossil bones is providing invaluable information on the genetics of past human and other animal populations. These studies have been aided enormously by the discovery that ancient DNA is relatively well preserved in the petrous bone compared to most other bones. The reasons for this better preservation are however not well understood. Here we examine the hypothesis that one reason for better DNA preservation in the petrous bone is that fresh petrous bone contains more DNA than other bones. We therefore determined the concentrations of osteocyte cells occluded inside lacunae within the petrous bone and compared these concentrations to other bones from the domestic pig using high resolution microCT. We show that the concentrations of osteocyte lacunae in the inner layer of the pig petrous bone adjacent to the otic chamber are about three times higher (around 95,000 lacunae per mm3) than in the mastoid of the temporal bone (around 28,000 lacunae per mm3), as well as the cortical bone of the femur (around 27,000 lacunae per mm3). The sizes and shapes of the lacuna in the inner layer of the petrous bone are similar to those in the femur. We also show that the pig petrous bone lacunae do contain osteocytes using a histological stain for DNA. We therefore confirm and significantly expand upon previous observations of osteocytic lacuna concentrations in the petrous bone, supporting the notion that one possible reason for better preservation of ancient DNA in the petrous bone is that this bone initially contains at least three times more DNA than other bones. Thus during diagenesis more DNA is likely to be preserved in the petrous bone compared to other bones.

RevDate: 2022-10-24

Cessford C, B Neil (2022)

The people of the Cambridge Austin friars.

Archaeological journal, 179(2):383-444 pii:2090675.

The Austin friars in Cambridge was an important religious institution between the late thirteenth and mid-sixteenth centuries. Excavations have revealed well-dated and contextualised burials associated with the friary, as well as a range of material culture. The burials have been subject to a wide range of analyses including osteology, palaeopathology, stable isotopes, ancient DNA and geometric morphometrics. Significantly the distinction between clothed and shrouded burials allows members of the Augustinian order and the laity to be identified. This represents the best-understood published group of burials from an Austin friars in the British Isles and emphasises the importance of nuanced interpretation, as burial at friaries was a structured and multi-local phenomenon. These burials and other material can be interpreted in terms of both mendicant ideals and anti-fraternal criticisms.

RevDate: 2022-10-24

Xu B, Yang G, Jiao B, et al (2022)

Analysis of ancient and modern horse genomes reveals the critical impact of lncRNA-mediated epigenetic regulation on horse domestication.

Frontiers in genetics, 13:944933 pii:944933.

Background: The domestication of horses has played critical roles in human civilizations. The excavation of ancient horse DNA provides crucial data for studying horse domestication. Studies of horse domestication can shed light on the general mechanisms of animal domestication. Objective: We wish to explore the gene transcription regulation by long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) that influence horse domestication. Methods: First, we assembled the ancient DNA sequences of multiple horses at different times and the genomes of horses, donkeys, and Przewalski horses. Second, we extracted sequences of lncRNA genes shared in ancient horses and sequences of lncRNA genes and the promoter regions of domestication-critical genes shared in modern horses, modern donkeys, and Przewalski horses to form two sample groups. Third, we used the LongTarget program to predict potential regulatory interactions between these lncRNAs and these domestication-critical genes and analyzed the differences between the regulation in ancient/modern horses and between horses/donkeys/Przewalski horses. Fourth, we performed functional enrichment analyses of genes that exhibit differences in epigenetic regulation. Results: First, genes associated with neural crest development and domestication syndrome are important targets of lncRNAs. Second, compared with undomesticated Przewalski horses, more lncRNAs participate in the epigenetic regulation in modern horses and donkeys, suggesting that domestication is linked to more epigenetic regulatory changes. Third, lncRNAs' potential target genes in modern horses are mainly involved in two functional areas: 1) the nervous system, behavior, and cognition, and 2) muscle, body size, cardiac function, and metabolism. Conclusion: Domestication is linked to substantial epigenetic regulatory changes. Genes associated with neural crest development and domestication syndrome underwent noticeable lncRNA-mediated epigenetic regulation changes during horse domestication.

RevDate: 2022-10-19

Enard D (2022)

Ancient DNA reveals rapid natural selection during the Black Death.

RevDate: 2022-10-20

Klunk J, Vilgalys TP, Demeure CE, et al (2022)

Evolution of immune genes is associated with the Black Death.

Nature [Epub ahead of print].

Infectious diseases are among the strongest selective pressures driving human evolution1,2. This includes the single greatest mortality event in recorded history, the first outbreak of the second pandemic of plague, commonly called the Black Death, which was caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis3. This pandemic devastated Afro-Eurasia, killing up to 30-50% of the population4. To identify loci that may have been under selection during the Black Death, we characterized genetic variation around immune-related genes from 206 ancient DNA extracts, stemming from two different European populations before, during and after the Black Death. Immune loci are strongly enriched for highly differentiated sites relative to a set of non-immune loci, suggesting positive selection. We identify 245 variants that are highly differentiated within the London dataset, four of which were replicated in an independent cohort from Denmark, and represent the strongest candidates for positive selection. The selected allele for one of these variants, rs2549794, is associated with the production of a full-length (versus truncated) ERAP2 transcript, variation in cytokine response to Y. pestis and increased ability to control intracellular Y. pestis in macrophages. Finally, we show that protective variants overlap with alleles that are today associated with increased susceptibility to autoimmune diseases, providing empirical evidence for the role played by past pandemics in shaping present-day susceptibility to disease.

RevDate: 2022-10-20
CmpDate: 2022-10-20

Martínez-García L, Ferrari G, Cuevas A, et al (2022)

Ancient DNA evidence for the ecological globalization of cod fishing in medieval and post-medieval Europe.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 289(1985):20221107.

Understanding the historical emergence and growth of long-range fisheries can provide fundamental insights into the timing of ecological impacts and the development of coastal communities during the last millennium. Whole-genome sequencing approaches can improve such understanding by determining the origin of archaeological fish specimens that may have been obtained from historic trade or distant water. Here, we used genome-wide data to individually infer the biological source of 37 ancient Atlantic cod specimens (ca 1050-1950 CE) from England and Spain. Our findings provide novel genetic evidence that eleventh- to twelfth-century specimens from London were predominantly obtained from nearby populations, while thirteenth- to fourteenth-century specimens were derived from distant sources. Our results further suggest that Icelandic cod was indeed exported to London earlier than previously reported. Our observations confirm the chronology and geography of the trans-Atlantic cod trade from Newfoundland to Spain starting by the early sixteenth century. Our findings demonstrate the utility of whole-genome sequencing and ancient DNA approaches to describe the globalization of marine fisheries and increase our understanding regarding the extent of the North Atlantic fish trade and long-range fisheries in medieval and early modern times.

RevDate: 2022-10-14
CmpDate: 2022-10-14

Xu Y, Allen E, Wang L, et al (2022)

Identifying Human Remains from 20th Century Warfare: A State of the Field Essay.

Frontiers in bioscience (Landmark edition), 27(9):271.

As we continually reflect on the wars of the 20th century, identification of the remains of victims takes an increasingly prominent position in ongoing research. Existing work on the identification of human remains from 20th century wars primarily covers the determination of phenotypic characteristics, kinship and geographic origins, supporting the establishment of genetic information databases. Compared with standard forensic methods, DNA analyses have revealed greater effectiveness. The process of DNA analysis includes DNA extraction, genetic marker testing and data analysis. Protocols from ancient DNA research can be applied to degraded remains, and next-generation sequencing (NGS) techniques can compensate for shortcomings in the most commonly-used PCR-capillary electrophoresis typing. As it stands, wide-ranging inter-governmental and inter-institutional collaboration is necessary in order to set up NGS-based public databases, and thereby promote the identification of human remains and archaeological forensics.

RevDate: 2022-10-18

Ter Schure ATM, Bruch AA, Kandel AW, et al (2022)

Sedimentary ancient DNA metabarcoding as a tool for assessing prehistoric plant use at the Upper Paleolithic cave site Aghitu-3, Armenia.

Journal of human evolution, 172:103258 pii:S0047-2484(22)00118-X [Epub ahead of print].

Current knowledge about Paleolithic human plant use is limited by the rare survival of identifiable plant remains as well as the availability of methods for plant detection and identification. By analyzing DNA preserved in cave sediments, we can identify organisms in the absence of any visible remains, opening up new ways to study details of past human behavior, including plant use. Aghitu-3 Cave contains a 15,000-yearlong record (from ∼39,000 to 24,000 cal BP) of Upper Paleolithic human settlement and environmental variability in the Armenian Highlands. Finds from this cave include stone artifacts, faunal remains, bone tools, shell beads, charcoal, and pollen, among others. We applied sedimentary ancient DNA (sedaDNA) metabarcoding to the Aghitu-3 sedimentary sequence and combined this with pollen data to obtain a temporal reconstruction of plant assemblages. Our results reveal a stratification of plant abundance and diversity where sedaDNA reflects periods of human occupation, showing higher diversity in layers with increased human activity. Low pollen concentrations combined with high sedaDNA abundance indicate plant remains may have been brought into the cave by animals or humans during the deposition of the lower two archaeological horizons. Most of the recovered plants are reported to be useful for food, flavor, medicine, and/or technical purposes, demonstrating the potential of the environment around Aghitu-3 Cave to support humans during the Upper Paleolithic. Moreover, we identified several specific plant taxa that strengthen previous findings about Upper Paleolithic plant use in this region (i.e., for medicine and the manufacturing and dyeing of textiles). This study represents the first application of plant sedaDNA analysis of cave sediments for the investigation of potential plant use by prehistoric humans.

RevDate: 2022-10-19

Seersholm FV, Harmsen H, Gotfredsen AB, et al (2022)

Ancient DNA provides insights into 4,000 years of resource economy across Greenland.

Nature human behaviour [Epub ahead of print].

The success and failure of past cultures across the Arctic was tightly coupled to the ability of past peoples to exploit the full range of resources available to them. There is substantial evidence for the hunting of birds, caribou and seals in prehistoric Greenland. However, the extent to which these communities relied on fish and cetaceans is understudied because of taphonomic processes that affect how these taxa are presented in the archaeological record. To address this, we analyse DNA from bulk bone samples from 12 archaeological middens across Greenland covering the Palaeo-Inuit, Norse and Neo-Inuit culture. We identify an assemblage of 42 species, including nine fish species and five whale species, of which the bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) was the most commonly detected. Furthermore, we identify a new haplotype in caribou (Rangifer tarandus), suggesting the presence of a distinct lineage of (now extinct) dwarfed caribou in Greenland 3,000 years ago.

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

Curry A (2022)

Ancient DNA pioneer Svante Pääbo wins Nobel.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 378(6615):12.

By sequencing ancient hominins' DNA, Pääbo explored "what makes us uniquely human".

RevDate: 2022-10-04

Graham F (2022)

Daily briefing: Medicine Nobel for ancient DNA.

RevDate: 2022-10-11
CmpDate: 2022-10-06

Callaway E, H Ledford (2022)

Geneticist who unmasked lives of ancient humans wins medicine Nobel.

Nature, 610(7930):16-17.

RevDate: 2022-10-17
CmpDate: 2022-10-05

Reitsema LJ, Mittnik A, Kyle B, et al (2022)

The diverse genetic origins of a Classical period Greek army.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 119(41):e2205272119.

Trade and colonization caused an unprecedented increase in Mediterranean human mobility in the first millennium BCE. Often seen as a dividing force, warfare is in fact another catalyst of culture contact. We provide insight into the demographic dynamics of ancient warfare by reporting genome-wide data from fifth-century soldiers who fought for the army of the Greek Sicilian colony of Himera, along with representatives of the civilian population, nearby indigenous settlements, and 96 present-day individuals from Italy and Greece. Unlike the rest of the sample, many soldiers had ancestral origins in northern Europe, the Steppe, and the Caucasus. Integrating genetic, archaeological, isotopic, and historical data, these results illustrate the significant role mercenaries played in ancient Greek armies and highlight how participation in war contributed to continental-scale human mobility in the Classical world.

RevDate: 2022-10-17
CmpDate: 2022-10-05

Daly KG, Arbuckle BS, Rossi C, et al (2022)

A novel lineage of the Capra genus discovered in the Taurus Mountains of Turkey using ancient genomics.

eLife, 11:.

Direkli Cave, located in the Taurus Mountains of southern Turkey, was occupied by Late Epipaleolithic hunters-gatherers for the seasonal hunting and processing of game including large numbers of wild goats. We report genomic data from new and published Capra specimens from Direkli Cave and, supplemented with historic genomes from multiple Capra species, find a novel lineage best represented by a ~14,000 year old 2.59 X genome sequenced from specimen Direkli4. This newly discovered Capra lineage is a sister clade to the Caucasian tur species (Capra cylindricornis and Capra caucasica), both now limited to the Caucasus region. We identify genomic regions introgressed in domestic goats with high affinity to Direkli4, and find that West Eurasian domestic goats in the past, but not those today, appear enriched for Direkli4-specific alleles at a genome-wide level. This forgotten 'Taurasian tur' likely survived Late Pleistocene climatic change in a Taurus Mountain refuge and its genomic fate is unknown.

RevDate: 2022-10-07
CmpDate: 2022-10-04

Armbrecht L, Weber ME, Raymo ME, et al (2022)

Ancient marine sediment DNA reveals diatom transition in Antarctica.

Nature communications, 13(1):5787.

Antarctica is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change on Earth and studying the past and present responses of this polar marine ecosystem to environmental change is a matter of urgency. Sedimentary ancient DNA (sedaDNA) analysis can provide such insights into past ecosystem-wide changes. Here we present authenticated (through extensive contamination control and sedaDNA damage analysis) metagenomic marine eukaryote sedaDNA from the Scotia Sea region acquired during IODP Expedition 382. We also provide a marine eukaryote sedaDNA record of ~1 Mio. years and diatom and chlorophyte sedaDNA dating back to ~540 ka (using taxonomic marker genes SSU, LSU, psbO). We find evidence of warm phases being associated with high relative diatom abundance, and a marked transition from diatoms comprising <10% of all eukaryotes prior to ~14.5 ka, to ~50% after this time, i.e., following Meltwater Pulse 1A, alongside a composition change from sea-ice to open-ocean species. Our study demonstrates that sedaDNA tools can be expanded to hundreds of thousands of years, opening the pathway to the study of ecosystem-wide marine shifts and paleo-productivity phases throughout multiple glacial-interglacial cycles.

RevDate: 2022-10-01

Gopalakrishnan S, Ebenesersdóttir SS, Lundstrøm IKC, et al (2022)

The population genomic legacy of the second plague pandemic.

Current biology : CB pii:S0960-9822(22)01467-1 [Epub ahead of print].

Human populations have been shaped by catastrophes that may have left long-lasting signatures in their genomes. One notable example is the second plague pandemic that entered Europe in ca. 1,347 CE and repeatedly returned for over 300 years, with typical village and town mortality estimated at 10%-40%.1 It is assumed that this high mortality affected the gene pools of these populations. First, local population crashes reduced genetic diversity. Second, a change in frequency is expected for sequence variants that may have affected survival or susceptibility to the etiologic agent (Yersinia pestis).2 Third, mass mortality might alter the local gene pools through its impact on subsequent migration patterns. We explored these factors using the Norwegian city of Trondheim as a model, by sequencing 54 genomes spanning three time periods: (1) prior to the plague striking Trondheim in 1,349 CE, (2) the 17th-19th century, and (3) the present. We find that the pandemic period shaped the gene pool by reducing long distance immigration, in particular from the British Isles, and inducing a bottleneck that reduced genetic diversity. Although we also observe an excess of large FST values at multiple loci in the genome, these are shaped by reference biases introduced by mapping our relatively low genome coverage degraded DNA to the reference genome. This implies that attempts to detect selection using ancient DNA (aDNA) datasets that vary by read length and depth of sequencing coverage may be particularly challenging until methods have been developed to account for the impact of differential reference bias on test statistics.

RevDate: 2022-10-15
CmpDate: 2022-10-14

Dimopoulos EA, Carmagnini A, Velsko IM, et al (2022)

HAYSTAC: A Bayesian framework for robust and rapid species identification in high-throughput sequencing data.

PLoS computational biology, 18(9):e1010493.

Identification of specific species in metagenomic samples is critical for several key applications, yet many tools available require large computational power and are often prone to false positive identifications. Here we describe High-AccuracY and Scalable Taxonomic Assignment of MetagenomiC data (HAYSTAC), which can estimate the probability that a specific taxon is present in a metagenome. HAYSTAC provides a user-friendly tool to construct databases, based on publicly available genomes, that are used for competitive read mapping. It then uses a novel Bayesian framework to infer the abundance and statistical support for each species identification and provide per-read species classification. Unlike other methods, HAYSTAC is specifically designed to efficiently handle both ancient and modern DNA data, as well as incomplete reference databases, making it possible to run highly accurate hypothesis-driven analyses (i.e., assessing the presence of a specific species) on variably sized reference databases while dramatically improving processing speeds. We tested the performance and accuracy of HAYSTAC using simulated Illumina libraries, both with and without ancient DNA damage, and compared the results to other currently available methods (i.e., Kraken2/Bracken, KrakenUniq, MALT/HOPS, and Sigma). HAYSTAC identified fewer false positives than both Kraken2/Bracken, KrakenUniq and MALT in all simulations, and fewer than Sigma in simulations of ancient data. It uses less memory than Kraken2/Bracken, KrakenUniq as well as MALT both during database construction and sample analysis. Lastly, we used HAYSTAC to search for specific pathogens in two published ancient metagenomic datasets, demonstrating how it can be applied to empirical datasets. HAYSTAC is available from

RevDate: 2022-10-21

Hider J, Duggan AT, Klunk J, et al (2022)

Examining pathogen DNA recovery across the remains of a 14th century Italian friar (Blessed Sante) infected with Brucella melitensis.

International journal of paleopathology, 39:20-34 pii:S1879-9817(22)00042-0 [Epub ahead of print].

OBJECTIVE: To investigate variation in ancient DNA recovery of Brucella melitensis, the causative agent of brucellosis, from multiple tissues belonging to one individual MATERIALS: 14 samples were analyzed from the mummified remains of the Blessed Sante, a 14 th century Franciscan friar from central Italy, with macroscopic diagnosis of probable brucellosis.

METHODS: Shotgun sequencing data from was examined to determine the presence of Brucella DNA.

RESULTS: Three of the 14 samples contained authentic ancient DNA, identified as belonging to B. melitensis. A genome (23.81X depth coverage, 0.98 breadth coverage) was recovered from a kidney stone. Nine of the samples contained reads classified as B. melitensis (7-169), but for many the data quality was insufficient to withstand our identification and authentication criteria.

CONCLUSIONS: We identified significant variation in the preservation and abundance of B. melitensis DNA present across multiple tissues, with calcified nodules yielding the highest number of authenticated reads. This shows how greatly sample selection can impact pathogen identification.

SIGNIFICANCE: Our results demonstrate variation in the preservation and recovery of pathogen DNA across tissues. This study highlights the importance of sample selection in the reconstruction of infectious disease burden and highlights the importance of a holistic approach to identifying disease.

LIMITATIONS: Study focuses on pathogen recovery in a single individual.

Further analysis of how sampling impacts aDNA recovery will improve pathogen aDNA recovery and advance our understanding of disease in past peoples.

RevDate: 2022-10-14

Alsos IG, Rijal DP, Ehrich D, et al (2022)

Postglacial species arrival and diversity buildup of northern ecosystems took millennia.

Science advances, 8(39):eabo7434.

What drives ecosystem buildup, diversity, and stability? We assess species arrival and ecosystem changes across 16 millennia by combining regional-scale plant sedimentary ancient DNA from Fennoscandia with near-complete DNA and trait databases. We show that postglacial arrival time varies within and between plant growth forms. Further, arrival times were mainly predicted by adaptation to temperature, disturbance, and light. Major break points in ecological trait diversity were seen between 13.9 and 10.8 calibrated thousand years before the present (cal ka BP), as well as break point in functional diversity at 12.0 cal ka BP, shifting from a state of ecosystem buildup to a state where most habitat types and biotic ecosystem components were in place. Trait and functional diversity stabilized around 8 cal ka BP, after which both remained stable, although changes in climate took place and species inflow continued. Our ecosystem reconstruction indicates a millennial-scale time phase of formation to reach stable and resilient levels of diversity and functioning.

RevDate: 2022-09-28

Connah K, Michael B, C Brassey (2022)

MiTiSegmenter: Software for high throughput segmentation and meshing of microCT data in microtiter plate arrays.

MethodsX, 9:101849.

Lab-based microCT is a powerful means of visualising the internal structure of physical specimens deployed across the physical sciences, engineering and the arts. As its popularity has grown, demand for bulk digitisation of multiple samples within a single scan has increased. High throughput workflows can increase sample sizes and reduce scan time, yet downstream segmentation and meshing remain a bottleneck. We present MiTiSegmenter as a new tool for the bulk archiving of valuable zooarchaeological and palaeontological remains. We foresee MiTiSegmenter as particularly useful when incorporated into workflows that ultimately require the destructive testing of specimens, including sampling for ancient DNA and proteomics. The software may also play an important role in national museums' ongoing mass digitisation efforts, facilitating the high-speed archiving of specimen 3D morphology across extensive collections with very minimal user intervention or prior training. •We present MiTiSegmenter, a software package for semi-automated image processing and segmentation of array-based batch microCT data.•Implemented in Python, MiTiSegmenter expedites cropping, meshing and exporting samples within stacked microtiter plates, facilitating the rapid digitisation of hundreds-thousands of samples per scan.•We illustrate MiTiSegmenter's capabilities when applied to bulk archiving of valuable zooarchaeological and palaeontological remains.

RevDate: 2022-10-11
CmpDate: 2022-09-28

Alagöz G, Molz B, Eising E, et al (2022)

Using neuroimaging genomics to investigate the evolution of human brain structure.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 119(40):e2200638119.

Alterations in brain size and organization represent some of the most distinctive changes in the emergence of our species. Yet, there is limited understanding of how genetic factors contributed to altered neuroanatomy during human evolution. Here, we analyze neuroimaging and genetic data from up to 30,000 people in the UK Biobank and integrate with genomic annotations for different aspects of human evolution, including those based on ancient DNA and comparative genomics. We show that previously reported signals of recent polygenic selection for cortical anatomy are not replicable in a more ancestrally homogeneous sample. We then investigate relationships between evolutionary annotations and common genetic variants shaping cortical surface area and white-matter connectivity for each hemisphere. Our analyses identify single-nucleotide polymorphism heritability enrichment in human-gained regulatory elements that are active in early brain development, affecting surface areas of several parts of the cortex, including left-hemispheric speech-associated regions. We also detect heritability depletion in genomic regions with Neanderthal ancestry for connectivity of the uncinate fasciculus; this is a white-matter tract involved in memory, language, and socioemotional processing with relevance to neuropsychiatric disorders. Finally, we show that common genetic loci associated with left-hemispheric pars triangularis surface area overlap with a human-gained enhancer and affect regulation of ZIC4, a gene implicated in neurogenesis. This work demonstrates how genomic investigations of present-day neuroanatomical variation can help shed light on the complexities of our evolutionary past.

RevDate: 2022-09-28

Modi A, Vizzari MT, Catalano G, et al (2022)

Genetic structure and differentiation from early bronze age in the mediterranean island of sicily: Insights from ancient mitochondrial genomes.

Frontiers in genetics, 13:945227.

Sicily is one of the main islands of the Mediterranean Sea, and it is characterized by a variety of archaeological records, material culture and traditions, reflecting the history of migrations and populations' interaction since its first colonization, during the Paleolithic. These deep and complex demographic and cultural dynamics should have affected the genomic landscape of Sicily at different levels; however, the relative impact of these migrations on the genomic structure and differentiation within the island remains largely unknown. The available Sicilian modern genetic data gave a picture of the current genetic structure, but the paucity of ancient data did not allow so far to make predictions about the level of historical variation. In this work, we sequenced and analyzed the complete mitochondrial genomes of 36 individuals from five different locations in Sicily, spanning from Early Bronze Age to Iron Age, and with different cultural backgrounds. The comparison with coeval groups from the Mediterranean Basin highlighted structured genetic variation in Sicily since Early Bronze Age, thus supporting a demic impact of the cultural transitions within the Island. Explicit model testing through Approximate Bayesian Computation allowed us to make predictions about the origin of Sicanians, one of the three indigenous peoples of Sicily, whose foreign origin from Spain, historically attributed, was not confirmed by our analysis of genetic data. Sicilian modern mitochondrial data show a different, more homogeneous, genetic composition, calling for a recent genetic replacement in the Island of pre-Iron Age populations, that should be further investigated.

RevDate: 2022-09-24

Yu XE, Sun C, Zou YT, et al (2022)

Ancient DNA from Tubo Kingdom-related tombs in northeastern Tibetan Plateau revealed their genetic affinity to both Tibeto-Burman and Altaic populations.

Molecular genetics and genomics : MGG [Epub ahead of print].

The rise of the Tubo Kingdom is considered as the key period for the formation of modern groups on the Tibetan Plateau. The ethnic origin of the residents of the Tubo Kingdom is quite complex, and their genetic structure remains unclear. The tombs of the Tubo Kingdom period in Dulan County, Qinghai Province, dating back to the seventh century, are considered to be the remains left by Tubo conquerors or the Tuyuhun people dominated by the Tubo Kingdom. The human remains of these tombs are ideal materials for studying the population dynamics in the Tubo Kingdom. In this paper, we analyzed the genome-wide data of eight remains from these tombs by shotgun sequencing and multiplex PCR panels and compared the results with data of available ancient and modern populations across East Asia. Genetic continuity between ancient Dulan people with ancient Xianbei tribes in Northeast Asia, ancient settlers on the Tibetan Plateau, and modern Tibeto-Burman populations was found. Surprisingly, one out of eight individuals showed typical genetic features of populations from Central Asia. In summary, the genetic diversity of ancient Dulan people and their affiliations with other populations provide an example of the complex origin of the residents in the Tubo Kingdom and their long-distance connection with populations in a vast geographic region across ancient Asia.

RevDate: 2022-09-28

Bellanger N, Dereeper A, R Koebnik (2022)

Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats in Xanthomonas citri-Witnesses to a Global Expansion of a Bacterial Pathogen over Time.

Microorganisms, 10(9):.

Xanthomonas citri pv. citri, a Gram-negative bacterium, is the causal agent of citrus canker, a significant threat to citrus production. Understanding of global expansion of the pathogen and monitoring introduction into new regions are of interest for integrated disease management at the local and global level. Genetic diversity can be assessed using genomic approaches or information from partial gene sequences, satellite markers or clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR). Here, we compared CRISPR loci from 355 strains of X. citri pv. citri, including a sample from ancient DNA, and generated the genealogy of the spoligotypes, i.e., the absence/presence patterns of CRISPR spacers. We identified 26 novel spoligotypes and constructed their likely evolutionary trajectory based on the whole-genome information. Moreover, we analyzed ~30 additional pathovars of X. citri and found that the oldest part of the CRISPR array was present in the ancestor of several pathovars of X. citri. This work presents a framework for further analyses of CRISPR loci and allows drawing conclusions about the global spread of the citrus canker pathogen, as exemplified by two introductions in West Africa.

RevDate: 2022-09-28

Horsburgh KA, Gosling AL, Cochrane EE, et al (2022)

Origins of Polynesian Pigs Revealed by Mitochondrial Whole Genome Ancient DNA.

Animals : an open access journal from MDPI, 12(18):.

Domestic pigs (Sus scrofa) were first transported to Polynesia through a series of long-distance voyages ultimately linked to the Neolithic expansion of Austronesian-speaking people out of Asia. The descendants of the founding pigs belong to a rare mtDNA group referred to as the "Pacific Clade" that may have originated in peninsular or island Southeast Asia. We report the first whole genome mtDNA from domestic pigs from any of the remote islands of the Pacific. In this brief report, we describe the close link we discovered between ancient mtDNA from archaeological specimens from across Polynesia and from that of modern pigs in northern peninsular Southeast Asia, specifically southern China's Yunnan Province. More complete mtDNA coverage in commensal animals is necessary to improve our picture of the settlement of Polynesia (ca. 2800-700 years before the present) and specify the route, or routes, that pigs took from northern peninsular Southeast Asia.

RevDate: 2022-10-11
CmpDate: 2022-09-26

Curry A (2022)

How the Anglo-Saxons settled England.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 377(6613):1371.

Genetic study of burials suggests whole families migrated to the island in the first millennium C.E.

RevDate: 2022-09-21

Anonymous (2022)

Ancient DNA reveals details about early medieval migration into England.

RevDate: 2022-10-20
CmpDate: 2022-10-07

Gretzinger J, Sayer D, Justeau P, et al (2022)

The Anglo-Saxon migration and the formation of the early English gene pool.

Nature, 610(7930):112-119.

The history of the British Isles and Ireland is characterized by multiple periods of major cultural change, including the influential transformation after the end of Roman rule, which precipitated shifts in language, settlement patterns and material culture1. The extent to which migration from continental Europe mediated these transitions is a matter of long-standing debate2-4. Here we study genome-wide ancient DNA from 460 medieval northwestern Europeans-including 278 individuals from England-alongside archaeological data, to infer contemporary population dynamics. We identify a substantial increase of continental northern European ancestry in early medieval England, which is closely related to the early medieval and present-day inhabitants of Germany and Denmark, implying large-scale substantial migration across the North Sea into Britain during the Early Middle Ages. As a result, the individuals who we analysed from eastern England derived up to 76% of their ancestry from the continental North Sea zone, albeit with substantial regional variation and heterogeneity within sites. We show that women with immigrant ancestry were more often furnished with grave goods than women with local ancestry, whereas men with weapons were as likely not to be of immigrant ancestry. A comparison with present-day Britain indicates that subsequent demographic events reduced the fraction of continental northern European ancestry while introducing further ancestry components into the English gene pool, including substantial southwestern European ancestry most closely related to that seen in Iron Age France5,6.

RevDate: 2022-10-12
CmpDate: 2022-09-22

Wu MY, Lau CJ, Ng EYX, et al (2022)

Genomes From Historic DNA Unveil Massive Hidden Extinction and Terminal Endangerment in a Tropical Asian Songbird Radiation.

Molecular biology and evolution, 39(9):.

Quantifying the magnitude of the global extinction crisis is important but remains challenging, as many extinction events pass unnoticed owing to our limited taxonomic knowledge of the world's organisms. The increasing rarity of many taxa renders comprehensive sampling difficult, further compounding the problem. Vertebrate lineages such as birds, which are thought to be taxonomically well understood, are therefore used as indicator groups for mapping and quantifying global extinction. To test whether extinction patterns are adequately gauged in well-studied groups, we implemented ancient-DNA protocols and retrieved whole genomes from the historic DNA of museum specimens in a widely known songbird radiation of shamas (genus Copsychus) that is assumed to be of least conservation concern. We uncovered cryptic diversity and an unexpected degree of hidden extinction and terminal endangerment. Our analyses reveal that >40% of the phylogenetic diversity of this radiation is already either extinct in the wild or nearly so, including the two genomically most distinct members of this group (omissus and nigricauda), which have so far flown under the conservation radar as they have previously been considered subspecies. Comparing the genomes of modern samples with those from roughly a century ago, we also found a significant decrease in genetic diversity and a concomitant increase in homozygosity affecting various taxa, including small-island endemics that are extinct in the wild as well as subspecies that remain widespread across the continental scale. Our application of modern genomic approaches demonstrates elevated levels of allelic and taxonomic diversity loss in a songbird clade that has not been listed as globally threatened, highlighting the importance of ongoing reassessments of extinction incidence even across well-studied animal groups. Key words: extinction, introgression, white-rumped shama, conservation.

RevDate: 2022-10-14
CmpDate: 2022-10-14

Cole G, Taylor GM, Stewart GR, et al (2022)

Ancient DNA confirmation of lepromatous leprosy in a skeleton with concurrent osteosarcoma, excavated from the leprosarium of St. Mary Magdalen in Winchester, Hants., UK.

European journal of clinical microbiology & infectious diseases : official publication of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology, 41(11):1295-1304.

To establish a biological profile and disease aetiologies for one of four burials recovered during a Time Team dig at the St. Mary Magdalen leprosarium, Winchester, UK in AD 2000. Osteological techniques were applied to estimate age at death, biological sex, stature and pathology. Visual assessment of the material was supplemented by radiographic examination. Evidence for leprosy DNA was sought using ancient DNA (aDNA) analysis. The remains are those of a male individual excavated from a west-east aligned grave. The skeleton shows signs of two pathologies. Remodelling of the rhino-maxillary area and degenerative changes to small bones of the feet and reactive bone on the distal lower limbs suggest a multibacillary form of leprosy, whereas the right tibia and fibula show the presence of a primary neoplasm identified as an osteosarcoma. The aDNA study confirmed presence of Mycobacterium leprae in several skeletal elements, and the strain was genotyped to the 3I lineage, one of two main SNP types present in mediaeval Britain and ancestral to extant strains in America. This is a rare documentation of leprosy in association with a primary neoplasm.

RevDate: 2022-09-15

Arauna LR, Bergstedt J, Choin J, et al (2022)

The genomic landscape of contemporary western Remote Oceanians.

Current biology : CB pii:S0960-9822(22)01377-X [Epub ahead of print].

The Vanuatu archipelago served as a gateway to Remote Oceania during one of the most extensive human migrations to uninhabited lands ∼3,000 years ago. Ancient DNA studies suggest an initial settlement by East Asian-related peoples that was quickly followed by the arrival of Papuan-related populations, leading to a major population turnover. Yet there is uncertainty over the population processes and the sociocultural factors that have shaped the genomic diversity of ni-Vanuatu, who present nowadays among the world's highest linguistic and cultural diversity. Here, we report new genome-wide data for 1,433 contemporary ni-Vanuatu from 29 different islands, including 287 couples. We find that ni-Vanuatu derive their East Asian- and Papuan-related ancestry from the same source populations and descend from relatively synchronous, sex-biased admixture events that occurred ∼1,700-2,300 years ago, indicating a peopling history common to the whole archipelago. However, East Asian-related ancestry proportions differ markedly across islands, suggesting that the Papuan-related population turnover was geographically uneven. Furthermore, we detect Polynesian ancestry arriving ∼600-1,000 years ago to Central and South Vanuatu in both Polynesian-speaking and non-Polynesian-speaking populations. Last, we provide evidence for a tendency of spouses to carry similar genetic ancestry, when accounting for relatedness avoidance. The signal is not driven by strong genetic effects of specific loci or trait-associated variants, suggesting that it results instead from social assortative mating. Altogether, our findings provide an insight into both the genetic history of ni-Vanuatu populations and how sociocultural processes have shaped the diversity of their genomes.

RevDate: 2022-09-23
CmpDate: 2022-09-14

Low YW, Rajaraman S, Tomlin CM, et al (2022)

Genomic insights into rapid speciation within the world's largest tree genus Syzygium.

Nature communications, 13(1):5031.

Species radiations, despite immense phenotypic variation, can be difficult to resolve phylogenetically when genetic change poorly matches the rapidity of diversification. Genomic potential furnished by palaeopolyploidy, and relative roles for adaptation, random drift and hybridisation in the apportionment of genetic variation, remain poorly understood factors. Here, we study these aspects in a model radiation, Syzygium, the most species-rich tree genus worldwide. Genomes of 182 distinct species and 58 unidentified taxa are compared against a chromosome-level reference genome of the sea apple, Syzygium grande. We show that while Syzygium shares an ancient genome doubling event with other Myrtales, little evidence exists for recent polyploidy events. Phylogenomics confirms that Syzygium originated in Australia-New Guinea and diversified in multiple migrations, eastward to the Pacific and westward to India and Africa, in bursts of speciation visible as poorly resolved branches on phylogenies. Furthermore, some sublineages demonstrate genomic clines that recapitulate cladogenetic events, suggesting that stepwise geographic speciation, a neutral process, has been important in Syzygium diversification.

RevDate: 2022-09-10

Guarino-Vignon P, Marchi N, Chimènes A, et al (2022)

Genetic analysis of a bronze age individual from Ulug-depe (Turkmenistan).

Frontiers in genetics, 13:884612.

The Oxus Civilisation (or Bactrio-Margian Archaeological Complex, BMAC) was the main archaeological culture of the Bronze Age in southern Central Asia. Paleogenetic analyses were previously conducted mainly on samples from the eastern part of BMAC. The population associated with BMAC descends from local Chalcolithic populations, with some outliers of steppe or South-Asian descent. Here, we present new genome-wide data for one individual from Ulug-depe (Turkmenistan), one of the main BMAC sites, located at the southwestern edge of the BMAC. We demonstrate that this individual genetically belongs to the BMAC cluster. Using this genome, we confirm that modern Indo-Iranian-speaking populations from Central Asia derive their ancestry from BMAC populations, with additional gene flow from the western and the Altai steppes in higher proportions among the Tajiks than the Yagnobi ethnic group.

RevDate: 2022-09-10
CmpDate: 2022-09-09

Richards SM, Li L, Breen J, et al (2022)

Recovery of chloroplast genomes from medieval millet grains excavated from the Areni-1 cave in southern Armenia.

Scientific reports, 12(1):15164.

Panicum miliaceum L. was domesticated in northern China at least 7000 years ago and was subsequentially adopted in many areas throughout Eurasia. One such locale is Areni-1 an archaeological cave site in Southern Armenia, where vast quantities archaeobotanical material were well preserved via desiccation. The rich botanical material found at Areni-1 includes P. miliaceum grains that were identified morphologically and14C dated to the medieval period (873 ± 36 CE and 1118 ± 35 CE). To investigate the demographic and evolutionary history of the Areni-1 millet, we used ancient DNA extraction, hybridization capture enrichment, and high throughput sequencing to assemble three chloroplast genomes from the medieval grains and then compared these sequences to 50 modern P. miliaceum chloroplast genomes. Overall, the chloroplast genomes contained a low amount of diversity with domesticated accessions separated by a maximum of 5 SNPs and little inference on demography could be made. However, in phylogenies the chloroplast genomes separated into two clades, similar to what has been reported for nuclear DNA from P. miliaceum. The chloroplast genomes of two wild (undomesticated) accessions of P. miliaceum contained a relatively large number of variants, 11 SNPs, not found in the domesticated accessions. These results demonstrate that P. miliaceum grains from archaeological sites can preserve DNA for at least 1000 years and serve as a genetic resource to study the domestication of this cereal crop.

RevDate: 2022-09-19
CmpDate: 2022-09-19

Flux AL, Schultz M, S Hummel (2022)

Ancient DNA analysis from epoxy resin Biodur®-embedded bones.

BioTechniques, 73(3):113-122.

For microscopic investigation, archaeological bone samples are often embedded in Biodur® epoxy resin. This study wants to test whether it is possible to extract DNA suitable for PCR amplification from this sample type. For eight individuals a set of samples - each consisting of a Biodur-embedded femur sample, a native femur sample and a control sample of different anatomical origin - were submitted to organic DNA extraction. The extraction success was tested by autosomal short tandem repeat amplification. Seven out of eight Biodur-embedded femur samples revealed successful amplification results. If Biodur-embedded bone material exists from earlier microscopic investigations, our results encourage the use of this sample type as a source for genetic research.

RevDate: 2022-10-04
CmpDate: 2022-10-04

Harvati K, RR Ackermann (2022)

Merging morphological and genetic evidence to assess hybridization in Western Eurasian late Pleistocene hominins.

Nature ecology & evolution, 6(10):1573-1585.

Previous scientific consensus saw human evolution as defined by adaptive differences (behavioural and/or biological) and the emergence of Homo sapiens as the ultimate replacement of non-modern groups by a modern, adaptively more competitive group. However, recent research has shown that the process underlying our origins was considerably more complex. While archaeological and fossil evidence suggests that behavioural complexity may not be confined to the modern human lineage, recent palaeogenomic work shows that gene flow between distinct lineages (for example, Neanderthals, Denisovans, early H. sapiens) occurred repeatedly in the late Pleistocene, probably contributing elements to our genetic make-up that might have been crucial to our success as a diverse, adaptable species. Following these advances, the prevailing human origins model has shifted from one of near-complete replacement to a more nuanced view of partial replacement with considerable reticulation. Here we provide a brief introduction to the current genetic evidence for hybridization among hominins, its prevalence in, and effects on, comparative mammal groups, and especially how it manifests in the skull. We then explore the degree to which cranial variation seen in the fossil record of late Pleistocene hominins from Western Eurasia corresponds with our current genetic and comparative data. We are especially interested in understanding the degree to which skeletal data can reflect admixture. Our findings indicate some correspondence between these different lines of evidence, flag individual fossils as possibly admixed, and suggest that different cranial regions may preserve hybridization signals differentially. We urge further studies of the phenotype to expand our ability to detect the ways in which migration, interaction and genetic exchange have shaped the human past, beyond what is currently visible with the lens of ancient DNA.

RevDate: 2022-09-06

Le MK, Smith OS, Akbari A, et al (2022)

1,000 ancient genomes uncover 10,000 years of natural selection in Europe.

bioRxiv : the preprint server for biology.

Ancient DNA has revolutionized our understanding of human population history. However, its potential to examine how rapid cultural evolution to new lifestyles may have driven biological adaptation has not been met, largely due to limited sample sizes. We assembled genome-wide data from 1,291 individuals from Europe over 10,000 years, providing a dataset that is large enough to resolve the timing of selection into the Neolithic, Bronze Age, and Historical periods. We identified 25 genetic loci with rapid changes in frequency during these periods, a majority of which were previously undetected. Signals specific to the Neolithic transition are associated with body weight, diet, and lipid metabolism-related phenotypes. They also include immune phenotypes, most notably a locus that confers immunity to Salmonella infection at a time when ancient Salmonella genomes have been shown to adapt to human hosts, thus providing a possible example of human-pathogen co-evolution. In the Bronze Age, selection signals are enriched near genes involved in pigmentation and immune-related traits, including at a key human protein interactor of SARS-CoV-2. Only in the Historical period do the selection candidates we detect largely mirror previously-reported signals, highlighting how the statistical power of previous studies was limited to the last few millennia. The Historical period also has multiple signals associated with vitamin D binding, providing evidence that lactase persistence may have been part of an oligogenic adaptation for efficient calcium uptake and challenging the theory that its adaptive value lies only in facilitating caloric supplementation during times of scarcity. Finally, we detect selection on complex traits in all three periods, including selection favoring variants that reduce body weight in the Neolithic. In the Historical period, we detect selection favoring variants that increase risk for cardiovascular disease plausibly reflecting selection for a more active inflammatory response that would have been adaptive in the face of increased infectious disease exposure. Our results provide an evolutionary rationale for the high prevalence of these deadly diseases in modern societies today and highlight the unique power of ancient DNA in elucidating biological change that accompanied the profound cultural transformations of recent human history.

RevDate: 2022-10-15

Gregory MD, KF Berman (2022)

Correction to: Echoes of ancient DNA in living modern humans affect risk for neuropsychiatric disease and brain structure and function of networks subserving higher-order cognition.

Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 47(12):2173.

RevDate: 2022-10-19
CmpDate: 2022-10-19

Šuligoj A, Mesesnel S, Leskovar T, et al (2022)

Comparison of DNA preservation between adult and non-adult ancient skeletons.

International journal of legal medicine, 136(6):1521-1539.

Studies evaluating DNA preservation in non-adults, or comparing preservation in adults and non-adults, are very rare. This study compares the preservation of DNA in the skeletal remains of adults and non-adults. It compares the quality and quantity of DNA recovered from different skeletal elements of adults and non-adults, and from non-adults of different age classes. In addition, the preservation of DNA in males and females is compared. Bone DNA preservation was estimated by measuring nuclear DNA concentration and its degradation, and through STR typing success. The study analyzed 29 adult skeletons and 23 non-adult skeletons from the Ljubljana-Polje archeological site, dating from the seventeenth to nineteenth century, and up to four skeletal elements (petrous bone, femur, calcaneus, and talus) were included. After full demineralization extraction, the PowerQuant System and the PowerPlex ESI 17 Fast System (Promega) were used for qPCR and STR typing, respectively. The results showed that, among the four bone types analyzed, only the petrous bone proved to be a suitable source of DNA for STR typing of non-adult skeletal remains, and DNA yield is even higher than in the adult petrous bone, which can be attributed to the higher DNA degradation observed in the adult petrous bone. In adult skeletons, petrous bones and tali produced high STR amplification success and low DNA yield was observed in adult femurs. The results of this study are applicable for the sampling strategy in routine forensic genetics cases for solving identification cases, including badly preserved non-adult and also adult skeletons.

RevDate: 2022-09-01

Gochi L, Kawai Y, A Fujimoto (2022)

Comprehensive analysis of microsatellite polymorphisms in human populations.

Human genetics [Epub ahead of print].

Microsatellites (MS) are tandem repeats of short units, and have been used for population genetics, individual identification, and medical genetics. However, studies of MS on a whole-genome level are limited, and genotyping methods for MS have yet to be established. Here, we analyzed approximately 8.5 million MS regions using a previously developed MS caller for short reads (MIVcall method) for three large publicly available human genome sequencing data sets: the Korean Personal Genome Project, Simons Genome Diversity Project, and Human Genome Diversity Project. Our analysis identified 253,114 polymorphic MS. A comparison among different populations suggests that MS in the coding region evolved by random genetic drift and natural selection. In an analysis of genetic structures, MS clearly revealed population structures as SNPs and detected clusters that were not found by SNPs in African and Oceanian populations. Based on the MS polymorphisms, we selected MS marker candidates for individual identification. Finally, we applied our method to a deep sequenced ancient DNA sample. This study provides a comprehensive picture of MS polymorphisms and application to human population studies.

RevDate: 2022-09-02

Behnamian S, Esposito U, Holland G, et al (2022)

Temporal population structure, a genetic dating method for ancient Eurasian genomes from the past 10,000 years.

Cell reports methods, 2(8):100270.

Radiocarbon dating is the gold standard in archeology to estimate the age of skeletons, a key to studying their origins. Many published ancient genomes lack reliable and direct dates, which results in obscure and contradictory reports. We developed the temporal population structure (TPS), a DNA-based dating method for genomes ranging from the Late Mesolithic to today, and applied it to 3,591 ancient and 1,307 modern Eurasians. TPS predictions aligned with the known dates and correctly accounted for kin relationships. TPS dating of poorly dated Eurasian samples resolved conflicting reports in the literature, as illustrated by one test case. We also demonstrated how TPS improved the ability to study phenotypic traits over time. TPS can be used when radiocarbon dating is unfeasible or uncertain or to develop alternative hypotheses for samples younger than 10,000 years ago, a limitation that may be resolved over time as ancient data accumulate.

RevDate: 2022-08-31

Brace S, Diekmann Y, Booth T, et al (2022)

Genomes from a medieval mass burial show Ashkenazi-associated hereditary diseases pre-date the 12th century.

Current biology : CB pii:S0960-9822(22)01355-0 [Epub ahead of print].

We report genome sequence data from six individuals excavated from the base of a medieval well at a site in Norwich, UK. A revised radiocarbon analysis of the assemblage is consistent with these individuals being part of a historically attested episode of antisemitic violence on 6 February 1190 CE. We find that four of these individuals were closely related and all six have strong genetic affinities with modern Ashkenazi Jews. We identify four alleles associated with genetic disease in Ashkenazi Jewish populations and infer variation in pigmentation traits, including the presence of red hair. Simulations indicate that Ashkenazi-associated genetic disease alleles were already at appreciable frequencies, centuries earlier than previously hypothesized. These findings provide new insights into a significant historical crime, into Ashkenazi population history, and into the origins of genetic diseases associated with modern Jewish populations.

RevDate: 2022-08-30

Handsley-Davis M, Kapellas K, Jamieson LM, et al (2022)

Heritage-specific oral microbiota in Indigenous Australian dental calculus.

Evolution, medicine, and public health, 10(1):352-362.

Background and objectives: Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders (hereafter respectfully referred to as Indigenous Australians) experience a high burden of chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Increased NCD risk is linked to oral diseases mediated by the oral microbiota, a microbial community influenced by both vertical transmission and lifestyle factors. As an initial step towards understanding the oral microbiota as a factor in Indigenous health, we present the first investigation of oral microbiota in Indigenous Australian adults.

Methodology: Dental calculus samples from Indigenous Australians with periodontal disease (PD; n = 13) and non-Indigenous individuals both with (n = 19) and without PD (n = 20) were characterized using 16S ribosomal RNA gene amplicon sequencing. Alpha and beta diversity, differentially abundant microbial taxa and taxa unique to different participant groups were analysed using QIIME2.

Results: Samples from Indigenous Australians were more phylogenetically diverse (Kruskal-Wallis H = 19.86, P = 8.3 × 10-6), differed significantly in composition from non-Indigenous samples (PERMANOVA pseudo-F = 10.42, P = 0.001) and contained a relatively high proportion of unique taxa not previously reported in the human oral microbiota (e.g. Endomicrobia). These patterns were robust to stratification by PD status. Oral microbiota diversity and composition also differed between Indigenous individuals living in different geographic regions.

Conclusions and implications: Indigenous Australians may harbour unique oral microbiota shaped by their long relationships with Country (ancestral homelands). Our findings have implications for understanding the origins of oral and systemic NCDs and for the inclusion of Indigenous peoples in microbiota research, highlighting the microbiota as a novel field of enquiry to improve Indigenous health.

RevDate: 2022-10-18
CmpDate: 2022-10-18

Canteri E, Brown SC, Schmidt NM, et al (2022)

Spatiotemporal influences of climate and humans on muskox range dynamics over multiple millennia.

Global change biology, 28(22):6602-6617.

Processes leading to range contractions and population declines of Arctic megafauna during the late Pleistocene and early Holocene are uncertain, with intense debate on the roles of human hunting, climatic change, and their synergy. Obstacles to a resolution have included an overreliance on correlative rather than process-explicit approaches for inferring drivers of distributional and demographic change. Here, we disentangle the ecological mechanisms and threats that were integral in the decline and extinction of the muskox (Ovibos moschatus) in Eurasia and in its expansion in North America using process-explicit macroecological models. The approach integrates modern and fossil occurrence records, ancient DNA, spatiotemporal reconstructions of past climatic change, species-specific population ecology, and the growth and spread of anatomically modern humans. We show that accurately reconstructing inferences of past demographic changes for muskox over the last 21,000 years require high dispersal abilities, large maximum densities, and a small Allee effect. Analyses of validated process-explicit projections indicate that climatic change was the primary driver of muskox distribution shifts and demographic changes across its previously extensive (circumpolar) range, with populations responding negatively to rapid warming events. Regional analyses show that the range collapse and extinction of the muskox in Europe (~13,000 years ago) was likely caused by humans operating in synergy with climatic warming. In Canada and Greenland, climatic change and human activities probably combined to drive recent population sizes. The impact of past climatic change on the range and extinction dynamics of muskox during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition signals a vulnerability of this species to future increased warming. By better establishing the ecological processes that shaped the distribution of the muskox through space and time, we show that process-explicit macroecological models have important applications for the future conservation and management of this iconic species in a warming Arctic.

RevDate: 2022-08-31
CmpDate: 2022-08-30

Roca-Rada X, Tereso S, Rohrlach AB, et al (2022)

A 1000-year-old case of Klinefelter's syndrome diagnosed by integrating morphology, osteology, and genetics.

Lancet (London, England), 400(10353):691-692.

RevDate: 2022-10-21

Smith-Guzmán NE (2022)

A paleoepidemiological approach to the challenging differential diagnosis of an isolated 1500-year-old anomalous molar from Panamá.

International journal of paleopathology, 39:1-13 pii:S1879-9817(22)00038-9 [Epub ahead of print].

OBJECTIVE: This study seeks to quantify the presence and prevalence of specific genetic and infectious diseases in the pre-Colombian Panamanian population and uses these data to consider the plausibility of these diseases as causative factors in the development of an abnormal supernumerary cusp morphology in a 1500-year-old isolated molar recovered from Cerro Juan Díaz (Los Santos, Panama).

MATERIALS: 267 individuals from pre-Columbian sites throughout Panama.

METHODS: The anomalous tooth was analyzed through macroscopic, odontometric, and radiographic means. Tentative differential diagnosis was performed using inferences from paleopathological features of the broader regional population.

RESULTS: The regional sample showed evidence of treponemal infection and developmental anomalies in 10.1% and 10.9% of individuals, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: While not able to rule out three potential genetic conditions, more evidence was found to support the differential diagnosis of congenital syphilis as the causative agent leading to the development of abnormal supernumerary cusps in the isolated molar.

SIGNIFICANCE: This study demonstrates how characterizing disease experience in the population can assist in differential diagnoses at the individual level and cautions against the assumption that any one lesion in isolation is unique to only one specific pathological condition.

LIMITATIONS: The timing discrepancy between clinical descriptions of congenital syphilis and genetic disorders, lack of knowledge on pathophysiological mechanisms of the former, poor preservation of Treponema pathogen ancient DNA, and deficiencies in modern public health data from Panama limit the differential diagnosis.

Inclusion and serious contemplation of genetic diseases in paleopathological differential diagnoses is necessary.

RevDate: 2022-08-30

Bosi G, De Felice S, Wilkinson MJ, et al (2022)

Brassica and Sinapis Seeds in Medieval Archaeological Sites: An Example of Multiproxy Analysis for Their Identification and Ethnobotanical Interpretation.

Plants (Basel, Switzerland), 11(16):.

The genus Brassica includes some of the most important vegetable and oil crops worldwide. Many Brassica seeds (which can show diagnostic characters useful for species identification) were recovered from two archaeological sites in northern Italy, dated from between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. We tested the combined use of archaeobotanical keys, ancient DNA barcoding, and references to ancient herbarium specimens to address the issue of diagnostic uncertainty. An unequivocal conventional diagnosis was possible for much of the material recovered, with the samples dominated by five Brassica species and Sinapis. The analysis using ancient DNA was restricted to the seeds with a Brassica-type structure and deployed a variant of multiplexed tandem PCR. The quality of diagnosis strongly depended on the molecular locus used. Nevertheless, many seeds were diagnosed down to species level, in concordance with their morphological identification, using one primer set from the core barcode site (matK). The number of specimens found in the Renaissance herbaria was not high; Brassica nigra, which is of great ethnobotanical importance, was the most common taxon. Thus, the combined use of independent means of species identification is particularly important when studying the early use of closely related crops, such as Brassicaceae.

RevDate: 2022-08-30

Pérez V, Liu Y, Hengst MB, et al (2022)

A Case Study for the Recovery of Authentic Microbial Ancient DNA from Soil Samples.

Microorganisms, 10(8):.

High Throughput DNA Sequencing (HTS) revolutionized the field of paleomicrobiology, leading to an explosive growth of microbial ancient DNA (aDNA) studies, especially from environmental samples. However, aDNA studies that examine environmental microbes routinely fail to authenticate aDNA, examine laboratory and environmental contamination, and control for biases introduced during sample processing. Here, we surveyed the available literature for environmental aDNA projects-from sample collection to data analysis-and assessed previous methodologies and approaches used in the published microbial aDNA studies. We then integrated these concepts into a case study, using shotgun metagenomics to examine methodological, technical, and analytical biases during an environmental aDNA study of soil microbes. Specifically, we compared the impact of five DNA extraction methods and eight bioinformatic pipelines on the recovery of microbial aDNA information in soil cores from extreme environments. Our results show that silica-based methods optimized for aDNA research recovered significantly more damaged and shorter reads (<100 bp) than a commercial kit or a phenol-chloroform method. Additionally, we described a stringent pipeline for data preprocessing, efficiently decreasing the representation of low-complexity and duplicated reads in our datasets and downstream analyses, reducing analytical biases in taxonomic classification.

RevDate: 2022-08-30
CmpDate: 2022-08-29

Sá L, Almeida M, Azonbakin S, et al (2022)

Phylogeography of Sub-Saharan Mitochondrial Lineages Outside Africa Highlights the Roles of the Holocene Climate Changes and the Atlantic Slave Trade.

International journal of molecular sciences, 23(16):.

Despite the importance of ancient DNA for understanding human prehistoric dispersals, poor survival means that data remain sparse for many areas in the tropics, including in Africa. In such instances, analysis of contemporary genomes remains invaluable. One promising approach is founder analysis, which identifies and dates migration events in non-recombining systems. However, it has yet to be fully exploited as its application remains controversial. Here, we test the approach by evaluating the age of sub-Saharan mitogenome lineages sampled outside Africa. The analysis confirms that such lineages in the Americas date to recent centuries-the time of the Atlantic slave trade-thereby validating the approach. By contrast, in North Africa, Southwestern Asia and Europe, roughly half of the dispersal signal dates to the early Holocene, during the "greening" of the Sahara. We elaborate these results by showing that the main source regions for the two main dispersal episodes are distinct. For the recent dispersal, the major source was West Africa, but with two exceptions: South America, where the fraction from Southern Africa was greater, and Southwest Asia, where Eastern Africa was the primary source. These observations show the potential of founder analysis as both a supplement and complement to ancient DNA studies.

RevDate: 2022-09-15
CmpDate: 2022-08-29

Zupanič Pajnič I, Zupanc T, Leskovar T, et al (2022)

Eye and Hair Color Prediction of Ancient and Second World War Skeletal Remains Using a Forensic PCR-MPS Approach.

Genes, 13(8):.

To test the usefulness of the forensic PCR-MPS approach to eye and hair color prediction for aged skeletons, a customized version of the PCR-MPS HIrisPlex panel was used on two sets of samples. The first set contained 11 skeletons dated from the 3rd to the 18th centuries AD, and for each of them at least four bone types were analyzed (for a total of 47 samples). In the second set, 24 skeletons from the Second World War were analyzed, and only petrous bones from the skulls were tested. Good-quality libraries were achieved in 83.3% of the cases for the ancient skeletons and in all Second World War petrous bones, with 94.7% and 100% of the markers, respectively, suitable for SNP typing. Consensus typing was achieved for about 91.7% of the markers in 10 out of 11 ancient skeletons, and the HIrisPlex-S webtool was then used to generate phenotypic predictions. Full predictions were achieved for 3 (27.3%) ancient skeletons and 12 (50%) Second World War petrous bones. In the remaining cases, different levels of AUC (area under the receiver operating curve) loss were computed because of no available data (NA) for 8.3% of markers in ancient skeletons and 4.2% of markers in Second World War petrous bones. Although the PCR-based approach has been replaced with new techniques in ancient DNA studies, the results show that customized forensic technologies can be successfully applied to aged bone remains, highlighting the role of the template in the success of PCR-MPS analysis. However, because several typical errors of ancient DNA sequencing were scored, replicate tests and accurate evaluation by an expert remain indispensable tools.

RevDate: 2022-08-30

Churchill SE, Keys K, AH Ross (2022)

Midfacial Morphology and Neandertal-Modern Human Interbreeding.

Biology, 11(8):.

Ancient DNA from, Neandertal and modern human fossils, and comparative morphological analyses of them, reveal a complex history of interbreeding between these lineages and the introgression of Neandertal genes into modern human genomes. Despite substantial increases in our knowledge of these events, the timing and geographic location of hybridization events remain unclear. Six measures of facial size and shape, from regional samples of Neandertals and early modern humans, were used in a multivariate exploratory analysis to try to identify regions in which early modern human facial morphology was more similar to that of Neandertals, which might thus represent regions of greater introgression of Neandertal genes. The results of canonical variates analysis and hierarchical cluster analysis suggest important affinities in facial morphology between both Middle and Upper Paleolithic early modern humans of the Near East with Neandertals, highlighting the importance of this region for interbreeding between the two lineages.

RevDate: 2022-09-20
CmpDate: 2022-09-20

Modzelewski AJ, Gan Chong J, Wang T, et al (2022)

Mammalian genome innovation through transposon domestication.

Nature cell biology, 24(9):1332-1340.

Since the discovery of transposons, their sheer abundance in host genomes has puzzled many. While historically viewed as largely harmless 'parasitic' DNAs during evolution, transposons are not a mere record of ancient genome invasion. Instead, nearly every element of transposon biology has been integrated into host biology. Here we review how host genome sequences introduced by transposon activities provide raw material for genome innovation and document the distinct evolutionary path of each species.

RevDate: 2022-08-30
CmpDate: 2022-08-29

Slon V, Clark JL, Friesem DE, et al (2022)

Extended longevity of DNA preservation in Levantine Paleolithic sediments, Sefunim Cave, Israel.

Scientific reports, 12(1):14528.

Paleogenomic research can elucidate the evolutionary history of human and faunal populations. Although the Levant is a key land-bridge between Africa and Eurasia, thus far, relatively little ancient DNA data has been generated from this region, since DNA degrades faster in warm climates. As sediments can be a source of ancient DNA, we analyzed 33 sediment samples from different sedimentological contexts in the Paleolithic layers of Sefunim Cave (Israel). Four contained traces of ancient Cervidae and Hyaenidae mitochondrial DNA. Dating by optical luminescence and radiocarbon indicates that the DNA comes from layers between 30,000 and 70,000 years old, surpassing theoretical expectations regarding the longevity of DNA deposited in such a warm environment. Both identified taxa are present in the zooarchaeological record of the site but have since gone extinct from the region, and a geoarchaeological study suggests little movement of the sediments after their deposition, lending further support to our findings. We provide details on the local conditions in the cave, which we hypothesize were particularly conducive to the long-term preservation of DNA-information that will be pertinent for future endeavors aimed at recovering ancient DNA from the Levant and other similarly challenging contexts.

RevDate: 2022-09-02
CmpDate: 2022-08-29

Lazaridis I, Alpaslan-Roodenberg S, Acar A, et al (2022)

Ancient DNA from Mesopotamia suggests distinct Pre-Pottery and Pottery Neolithic migrations into Anatolia.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 377(6609):982-987.

We present the first ancient DNA data from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic of Mesopotamia (Southeastern Turkey and Northern Iraq), Cyprus, and the Northwestern Zagros, along with the first data from Neolithic Armenia. We show that these and neighboring populations were formed through admixture of pre-Neolithic sources related to Anatolian, Caucasus, and Levantine hunter-gatherers, forming a Neolithic continuum of ancestry mirroring the geography of West Asia. By analyzing Pre-Pottery and Pottery Neolithic populations of Anatolia, we show that the former were derived from admixture between Mesopotamian-related and local Epipaleolithic-related sources, but the latter experienced additional Levantine-related gene flow, thus documenting at least two pulses of migration from the Fertile Crescent heartland to the early farmers of Anatolia.

RevDate: 2022-09-01
CmpDate: 2022-08-29

Curry A (2022)

Ancient DNA from the Near East probes a cradle of civilization.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 377(6609):908-909.

Studies seek clues to origins of farming, early languages.

RevDate: 2022-09-02
CmpDate: 2022-08-29

Arbuckle BS, Z Schwandt (2022)

Ancient genomes and West Eurasian history.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 377(6609):922-923.

Storytelling with ancient DNA reveals challenges and potential for writing new histories.

RevDate: 2022-10-12
CmpDate: 2022-09-15

Dai SS, Sulaiman X, Isakova J, et al (2022)

The Genetic Echo of the Tarim Mummies in Modern Central Asians.

Molecular biology and evolution, 39(9):.

The diversity of Central Asians has been shaped by multiple migrations and cultural diffusion. Although ancient DNA studies have revealed the demographic changes of the Central Asian since the Bronze Age, the contribution of the ancient populations to the modern Central Asian remains opaque. Herein, we performed high-coverage sequencing of 131 whole genomes of Indo-European-speaking Tajik and Turkic-speaking Kyrgyz populations to explore their genomic diversity and admixture history. By integrating the ancient DNA data, we revealed more details of the origins and admixture history of Central Asians. We found that the major ancestry of present-day Tajik populations can be traced back to the admixture of the Bronze Age Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex and Andronovo-related populations. Highland Tajik populations further received additional gene flow from the Tarim mummies, an isolated ancient North Eurasian-related population. The West Eurasian ancestry of Kyrgyz is mainly derived from Historical Era populations in Xinjiang of China. Furthermore, the recent admixture signals detected in both Tajik and Kyrgyz are ascribed to the expansions of Eastern Steppe nomadic pastoralists during the Historical Era.

RevDate: 2022-09-06
CmpDate: 2022-09-02

Kreier F (2022)

Ancient tooth DNA reveals how 'cold sore' herpes virus has evolved.

Nature, 609(7925):21-22.

RevDate: 2022-09-29
CmpDate: 2022-08-25

Schuenemann VJ (2022)

Ancient DNA: Pathogens caught in the Minoan labyrinth.

Current biology : CB, 32(16):R886-R889.

Ancient DNA methodologies enable research on past prevalence and evolutionary history of pathogens. A new study found plague and typhoid fever-causing bacteria in Minoan Crete, showcasing both the potential and the limitations of the growing field of ancient pathogen genomics.

RevDate: 2022-08-23

Collen EJ, Johar AS, Teixeira JC, et al (2022)

The immunogenetic impact of European colonization in the Americas.

Frontiers in genetics, 13:918227.

The introduction of pathogens originating from Eurasia into the Americas during early European contact has been associated with high mortality rates among Indigenous peoples, likely contributing to their historical and precipitous population decline. However, the biological impacts of imported infectious diseases and resulting epidemics, especially in terms of pathogenic effects on the Indigenous immunity, remain poorly understood and highly contentious to this day. Here, we examine multidisciplinary evidence underpinning colonization-related immune genetic change, providing contextualization from anthropological studies, paleomicrobiological evidence of contrasting host-pathogen coevolutionary histories, and the timings of disease emergence. We further summarize current studies examining genetic signals reflecting post-contact Indigenous population bottlenecks, admixture with European and other populations, and the putative effects of natural selection, with a focus on ancient DNA studies and immunity-related findings. Considering current genetic evidence, together with a population genetics theoretical approach, we show that post-contact Indigenous immune adaptation, possibly influenced by selection exerted by introduced pathogens, is highly complex and likely to be affected by multifactorial causes. Disentangling putative adaptive signals from those of genetic drift thus remains a significant challenge, highlighting the need for the implementation of population genetic approaches that model the short time spans and complex demographic histories under consideration. This review adds to current understandings of post-contact immunity evolution in Indigenous peoples of America, with important implications for bettering our understanding of human adaptation in the face of emerging infectious diseases.

RevDate: 2022-08-24
CmpDate: 2022-08-16

Illanes G, Fariello MI, Spangenberg L, et al (2022)

Testing the existence of an unadmixed ancestor from a specific population t generations ago.

PloS one, 17(8):e0271097.

The ancestry of each locus of the genome can be estimated (local ancestry) based on sequencing or genotyping information together with reference panels of ancestral source populations. The length of those ancestry-specific genomic segments are commonly used to understand migration waves and admixture events. In short time scales, it is often of interest to determine the existence of the most recent unadmixed ancestor from a specific population t generations ago. We built a hypothesis test to determine if an individual has an ancestor belonging to a target ancestral population t generations ago based on these lengths of the ancestry-specific segments at an individual level. We applied this test on a data set that includes 20 Uruguayan admixed individuals to estimate for each one how many generations ago the most recent indigenous ancestor lived. As this method tests each individual separately, it is particularly suited to small sample sizes, such as our study or ancient genome samples.

RevDate: 2022-08-22

Walton K, Scarsbrook L, Mitchell KJ, et al (2022)

Application of palaeogenetic techniques to historic mollusc shells reveals phylogeographic structure in a New Zealand abalone.

Molecular ecology resources [Epub ahead of print].

Natural history collections worldwide contain a plethora of mollusc shells. Recent studies have detailed the sequencing of DNA extracted from shells up to thousands of years old and from various taphonomic and preservational contexts. However, previous approaches have largely addressed methodological rather than evolutionary research questions. Here, we report the generation of DNA sequence data from mollusc shells using such techniques, applied to Haliotis virginea Gmelin, 1791, a New Zealand abalone, in which morphological variation has led to the recognition of several forms and subspecies. We successfully recovered near-complete mitogenomes from 22 specimens including 12 dry-preserved shells up to 60 years old. We used a combination of palaeogenetic techniques that have not previously been applied to shell, including DNA extraction optimized for ultra-short fragments and hybridization-capture of single-stranded DNA libraries. Phylogenetic analyses revealed three major, well-supported clades comprising samples from: (1) The Three Kings Islands; (2) the Auckland, Chatham and Antipodes Islands; and (3) mainland New Zealand and Campbell Island. This phylogeographic structure does not correspond to the currently recognized forms. Critically, our nonreliance on freshly collected or ethanol-preserved samples enabled inclusion of topotypes of all recognized subspecies as well as additional difficult-to-sample populations. Broader application of these comparatively cost-effective and reliable methods to modern, historical, archaeological and palaeontological shell samples has the potential to revolutionize invertebrate genetic research.

RevDate: 2022-08-22
CmpDate: 2022-08-11

Wang R, CC Wang (2022)

Human genetics: The dual origin of Three Kingdoms period Koreans.

Current biology : CB, 32(15):R844-R847.

The genetic history of Koreans remains poorly understood due to a lack of ancient DNA. A new paleo-genomic study shows that population stratification in 4th-5th century South Korean populations was linked to a varied proportion of indigenous Jomon-related ancestry, which does not survive in present-day Koreans.

RevDate: 2022-10-11
CmpDate: 2022-09-28

Scott CB, Cárdenas A, Mah M, et al (2022)

Millennia-old coral holobiont DNA provides insight into future adaptive trajectories.

Molecular ecology, 31(19):4979-4990.

Ancient DNA (aDNA) has been applied to evolutionary questions across a wide variety of taxa. Here, for the first time, we utilized aDNA from millennia-old fossil coral fragments to gain new insights into a rapidly declining western Atlantic reef ecosystem. We sampled four Acropora palmata fragments (dated 4215 BCE to 1099 CE) obtained from two Florida Keys reef cores. From these samples, we established that it is possible both to sequence aDNA from reef cores and place the data in the context of modern-day genetic variation. We recovered varying amounts of nuclear DNA exhibiting the characteristic signatures of aDNA from the A. palmata fragments. To describe the holobiont sensu lato, which plays a crucial role in reef health, we utilized metagenome-assembled genomes as a reference to identify a large additional proportion of ancient microbial DNA from the samples. The samples shared many common microbes with modern-day coral holobionts from the same region, suggesting remarkable holobiont stability over time. Despite efforts, we were unable to recover ancient Symbiodiniaceae reads from the samples. Comparing the ancient A. palmata data to whole-genome sequencing data from living acroporids, we found that while slightly distinct, ancient samples were most closely related to individuals of their own species. Together, these results provide a proof-of-principle showing that it is possible to carry out direct analysis of coral holobiont change over time, which lays a foundation for studying the impacts of environmental stress and evolutionary constraints.

RevDate: 2022-10-19
CmpDate: 2022-08-09

Petrou EL, Kopperl R, Lepofsky D, et al (2022)

Ancient DNA reveals phenological diversity of Coast Salish herring harvests over multiple centuries.

Scientific reports, 12(1):13512.

Phenological diversity in food resources prolongs foraging opportunities for consumers and buffers them against environmental disturbances. Such diversity is particularly important in forage fish such as Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii), which are foundational to coastal food webs and fisheries. While the importance of phenological diversity is well-known from contemporary studies, the extent to which different populations contribute to fisheries over long time scales is mostly unknown. In this study, we investigated the relative contributions of genetically and phenologically distinct herring populations to Indigenous Peoples' food systems over multiple centuries, using ancient DNA extracted from archaeological herring bones. These bones were excavated from two Coast Salish archaeological sites (Burton Acres Shell Midden and Bay Street Shell Midden) in the Puget Sound region, USA. Using genetic stock identification from seven nuclear DNA markers, we showed that catches at the two sites in central Puget Sound were dominated by January-February and March-April spawners, which are the contemporary spawning groups in the vicinity of the sites. However, May spawners were detected in the older Burton Acres assemblage (dated to 910-685 cal BP), and a mixed stock analysis indicated that catches at this site consisted of multiple populations. These results suggest that Coast Salish ancestors used a portfolio of herring populations and benefited from the ecological resource wave created by different spawning groups of herring. This study of ancient DNA allowed us to glimpse into Indigenous traditional food and management systems, and it enabled us to investigate long-term patterns of biodiversity in an ecologically important forage fish species.

RevDate: 2022-10-19
CmpDate: 2022-08-09

Silva NM, Kreutzer S, Souleles A, et al (2022)

Ancient mitochondrial diversity reveals population homogeneity in Neolithic Greece and identifies population dynamics along the Danubian expansion axis.

Scientific reports, 12(1):13474.

The aim of the study is to investigate mitochondrial diversity in Neolithic Greece and its relation to hunter-gatherers and farmers who populated the Danubian Neolithic expansion axis. We sequenced 42 mitochondrial palaeogenomes from Greece and analysed them together with European set of 328 mtDNA sequences dating from the Early to the Final Neolithic and 319 modern sequences. To test for population continuity through time in Greece, we use an original structured population continuity test that simulates DNA from different periods by explicitly considering the spatial and temporal dynamics of populations. We explore specific scenarios of the mode and tempo of the European Neolithic expansion along the Danubian axis applying spatially explicit simulations coupled with Approximate Bayesian Computation. We observe a striking genetic homogeneity for the maternal line throughout the Neolithic in Greece whereas population continuity is rejected between the Neolithic and present-day Greeks. Along the Danubian expansion axis, our best-fitting scenario supports a substantial decrease in mobility and an increasing local hunter-gatherer contribution to the gene-pool of farmers following the initial rapid Neolithic expansion. Οur original simulation approach models key demographic parameters rather than inferring them from fragmentary data leading to a better understanding of this important process in European prehistory.

RevDate: 2022-08-05

Royle TCA, Guiry EJ, Zhang H, et al (2022)

Documenting the short-tailed albatross (Phoebastria albatrus) clades historically present in British Columbia, Canada, through ancient DNA analysis of archaeological specimens.

Ecology and evolution, 12(8):e9116.

The short-tailed albatross (Phoebastria albatrus) is a threatened seabird whose present-day range encompasses much of the North Pacific. Within this species, there are two genetic clades (Clades 1 and 2) that have distinctive morphologies and foraging ecologies. Due to a global population collapse in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the frequency of these clades among the short-tailed albatross population that historically foraged off British Columbia, Canada, is unclear. To document the species' historical genetic structure in British Columbia, we applied ancient DNA (aDNA) analysis to 51 archaeological short-tailed albatross specimens from the Yuquot site (Borden site number: DjSp-1) that span the past four millennia. We obtained a 141 bp cytochrome b sequence from 43 of the 51 (84.3%) analyzed specimens. Analyses of these sequences indicate 40 of the specimens belong to Clade 1, while 2 belong to Clade 2. We also identified a single specimen with a novel cytochrome b haplotype. Our results indicate that during the past four millennia most of the short-tailed albatrosses foraging near Yuquot belonged to Clade 1, while individuals from other lineages made more limited use of the area. Comparisons with the results of previous aDNA analyses of archaeological albatrosses from Japanese sites suggest the distribution of Clades 1 and 2 differed. While both albatross clades foraged extensively in the Northwest Pacific, Clade 1 albatrosses appear to have foraged along the west coast of Vancouver Island to a greater extent. Due to their differing distributions, these clades may be exposed to different threats.

RevDate: 2022-09-02

Gregory MD, KF Berman (2022)

Echoes of ancient DNA in living modern humans affect risk for neuropsychiatric disease and brain structure and function of networks subserving higher-order cognition.

RevDate: 2022-09-13

Zhu S, Chen Z, Hu S, et al (2022)

Ancient DNA traces a Chinese 5400-year-old cat specimen as leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis).

RevDate: 2022-09-06
CmpDate: 2022-08-17

Doniec A, Januła M, Grzmil P, et al (2022)

Assessing the utility of quantitative and qualitative metrics in the DNA quantification process of skeletal remains for autosomal and Y-chromosome STR amplification purposes.

Forensic science international. Genetics, 60:102751.

In historical cases, ancient DNA investigations and missing persons identification, teeth or bone samples are often the only and almost always the best biological material available for DNA typing. On the other hand, DNA obtained from bone material may be characterized by a high degradation index (DI) or its low content, or DNA tests cannot be repeated due to bone piece size limitation. That is often the effect of the environment in which the material was placed and the time during which exposure to unfavorable environmental factors took place. Therefore, it is very important to use appropriate procedures related to STR analysis. For our study, we selected 80 challenging bone samples. The amount of DNA was compared in qPCR using Quantifiler™ Trio DNA Quantification Kit and Investigator® Quantiplex® Pro RGQ. All qPCR results were confirmed by PCR-CE. The results of DNA concentrations and the assigned degradation index (DI) differed significantly within analyzed samples (~10%). Additionally, the Y-chromosome DI also differed from the autosomal DI in the samples. The difference in degradation indexes could explain the lower Y-chromosome amplification success rate compared to autosomal e.g. during human identification process. The results indicate that performing two DNA quantifications with the use of two different kits (primers sets) allows for a much more precise evaluation of the DNA quality and quantity in the isolate. We suggest that at least one of two suggested DNA concentration measurements should be based on an additional determination of the Y chromosome degradation index. Altogether, it allows for rational isolate management, especially when the volume is limited and the sample is unique.

RevDate: 2022-08-25
CmpDate: 2022-08-22

Pérez-Escobar OA, Tusso S, Przelomska NAS, et al (2022)

Genome Sequencing of up to 6,000-Year-Old Citrullus Seeds Reveals Use of a Bitter-Fleshed Species Prior to Watermelon Domestication.

Molecular biology and evolution, 39(8):.

Iconographic evidence from Egypt suggests that watermelon pulp was consumed there as a dessert by 4,360 BP. Earlier archaeobotanical evidence comes from seeds from Neolithic settlements in Libya, but whether these were watermelons with sweet pulp or other forms is unknown. We generated genome sequences from 6,000- and 3,300-year-old seeds from Libya and Sudan, and from worldwide herbarium collections made between 1824 and 2019, and analyzed these data together with resequenced genomes from important germplasm collections for a total of 131 accessions. Phylogenomic and population-genomic analyses reveal that (1) much of the nuclear genome of both ancient seeds is traceable to West African seed-use "egusi-type" watermelon (Citrullus mucosospermus) rather than domesticated pulp-use watermelon (Citrullus lanatus ssp. vulgaris); (2) the 6,000-year-old watermelon likely had bitter pulp and greenish-white flesh as today found in C. mucosospermus, given alleles in the bitterness regulators ClBT and in the red color marker LYCB; and (3) both ancient genomes showed admixture from C. mucosospermus, C. lanatus ssp. cordophanus, C. lanatus ssp. vulgaris, and even South African Citrullus amarus, and evident introgression between the Libyan seed (UMB-6) and populations of C. lanatus. An unexpected new insight is that Citrullus appears to have initially been collected or cultivated for its seeds, not its flesh, consistent with seed damage patterns induced by human teeth in the oldest Libyan material.

RevDate: 2022-07-31

Erven JAM, Çakirlar C, Bradley DG, et al (2022)

Imputation of Ancient Whole Genome Sus scrofa DNA Introduces Biases Toward Main Population Components in the Reference Panel.

Frontiers in genetics, 13:872486.

Sequencing ancient DNA to high coverage is often limited by sample quality and cost. Imputing missing genotypes can potentially increase information content and quality of ancient data, but requires different computational approaches than modern DNA imputation. Ancient imputation beyond humans has not been investigated. In this study we report results of a systematic evaluation of imputation of three whole genome ancient Sus scrofa samples from the Early and Late Neolithic (∼7,100-4,500 BP), to test the utility of imputation. We show how issues like genetic architecture and, reference panel divergence, composition and size affect imputation accuracy. We evaluate a variety of imputation methods, including Beagle5, GLIMPSE, and Impute5 with varying filters, pipelines, and variant calling methods. We achieved genotype concordance in most cases reaching above 90%; with the highest being 98% with ∼2,000,000 variants recovered using GLIMPSE. Despite this high concordance the sources of diversity present in the genotypes called in the original high coverage genomes were not equally imputed leading to biases in downstream analyses; a trend toward genotypes most common in the reference panel is observed. This demonstrates that the current reference panel does not possess the full diversity needed for accurate imputation of ancient Sus, due to missing variations from Near Eastern and Mesolithic wild boar. Imputation of ancient Sus scrofa holds potential but should be approached with caution due to these biases, and suggests that there is no universal approach for imputation of non-human ancient species.

RevDate: 2022-08-22
CmpDate: 2022-08-01

O'Grady C (2022)

Ancient Europeans farmed dairy-but couldn't digest milk.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 377(6605):456.

Giant study of ancient pottery and DNA challenges common evolutionary explanation for lactase persistence.

RevDate: 2022-10-06
CmpDate: 2022-07-29

Krajcarz M, Van Neer W, Krajcarz MT, et al (2022)

Stable isotopes unveil one millennium of domestic cat paleoecology in Europe.

Scientific reports, 12(1):12775.

The domestic cat is the world's most popular pet and one of the most detrimental predators in terrestrial ecosystems. Effective protection of wildlife biodiversity demands detailed tracking of cat trophic ecology, and stable isotopes serve as a powerful proxy in dietary studies. However, a variable diet can make an isotopic pattern unreadable in opportunistic predators. To evaluate the usefulness of the isotopic method in cat ecology, we measured C and N isotope ratios in hundreds of archaeological cat bones. We determined trends in cat trophic paleoecology in northern Europe by exploiting population-scale patterns in animals from diverse locations. Our dataset shows a high variability of isotopic signals related to the socio-economic and/or geomorphological context. This points toward regularities in isotopic patterns across past cat populations. We provide a generalized guide to interpret the isotopic ecology of cats, emphasizing that regional isotopic baselines have a major impact on the isotopic signal.

RevDate: 2022-09-29
CmpDate: 2022-08-25

Neumann GU, Skourtanioti E, Burri M, et al (2022)

Ancient Yersinia pestis and Salmonella enterica genomes from Bronze Age Crete.

Current biology : CB, 32(16):3641-3649.e8.

During the late 3rd millennium BCE, the Eastern Mediterranean and Near East witnessed societal changes in many regions, which are usually explained with a combination of social and climatic factors.1-4 However, recent archaeogenetic research forces us to rethink models regarding the role of infectious diseases in past societal trajectories.5 The plague bacterium Yersinia pestis, which was involved in some of the most destructive historical pandemics,5-8 circulated across Eurasia at least from the onset of the 3rd millennium BCE,9-13 but the challenging preservation of ancient DNA in warmer climates has restricted the identification of Y. pestis from this period to temperate climatic regions. As such, evidence from culturally prominent regions such as the Eastern Mediterranean is currently lacking. Here, we present genetic evidence for the presence of Y. pestis and Salmonella enterica, the causative agent of typhoid/enteric fever, from this period of transformation in Crete, detected at the cave site Hagios Charalambos. We reconstructed one Y. pestis genome that forms part of a now-extinct lineage of Y. pestis strains from the Late Neolithic and Bronze Age that were likely not yet adapted for transmission via fleas. Furthermore, we reconstructed two ancient S. enterica genomes from the Para C lineage, which cluster with contemporary strains that were likely not yet fully host adapted to humans. The occurrence of these two virulent pathogens at the end of the Early Minoan period in Crete emphasizes the necessity to re-introduce infectious diseases as an additional factor possibly contributing to the transformation of early complex societies in the Aegean and beyond.

RevDate: 2022-07-27
CmpDate: 2022-07-27

Gibert JM (2022)

[Small scale evolution].

Biologie aujourd'hui, 216(1-2):41-47.

Small-scale evolution or microevolution concerns evolution at the intra-specific level or between closely related species. At the intra-specific level, it allows the analysis of the evolutionary forces at work: mutation, genetic drift, migration and selection. Moreover, because of the short evolutionary time, it is easier to identify the genetic basis of observed phenotypic differences. Most studies focus on current populations but more and more analyses are performed on ancient DNA. This provides important information for tracing the history of populations and also allows the reconstruction of phenotypes of individuals that disappeared several thousand years ago. In this short review, I present studies showing how pre-zygotic or post-zygotic barriers involved in species formation are set up using the example of the geographical barrier due to the formation of the Isthmus of Panama and that of the heterochromatin divergence in Drosophilidae. I also describe the different approaches that have been used to identify the genetic basis of well known phenotypic variations: candidate gene approach (about melanism in felines), QTL mapping (variation in the number of lateral bone plates in sticklebacks), association study (pigmentation in the Asian ladybird). Finally, I illustrate the key impact of natural selection with the iconic example of the evolution of the beak of Galapagos finches, and the role of certain developmental genes in its morphological diversification.

RevDate: 2022-07-26

Silvestrini S, Romandini M, Marciani G, et al (2022)

Integrated multidisciplinary ecological analysis from the Uluzzian settlement at the Uluzzo C Rock Shelter, south-eastern Italy.

Journal of quaternary science, 37(2):235-256.

The Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition, between 50 000 and 40 000 years ago, is a period of important ecological and cultural changes. In this framework, the Rock Shelter of Uluzzo C (Apulia, southern Italy) represents an important site due to Late Mousterian and Uluzzian evidence preserved in its stratigraphic sequence. Here, we present the results of a multidisciplinary analysis performed on the materials collected between 2016 and 2018 from the Uluzzian stratigraphic units (SUs) 3, 15 and 17. The analysis involved lithic technology, use-wear, zooarchaeology, ancient DNA of sediments and palaeoproteomics, completed by quartz single-grain optically stimulated luminescence dating of the cave sediments. The lithic assemblage is characterized by a volumetric production and a debitage with no or little management of the convexities (by using the bipolar technique), with the objective to produce bladelets and flakelets. The zooarchaeological study found evidence of butchery activity and of the possible exploitation of marine resources, while drawing a picture of a patchy landscape, composed of open forests and dry open environments surrounding the shelter. Ancient mitochondrial DNA from two mammalian taxa were recovered from the sediments. Preliminary zooarchaeology by mass spectrometry results are consistent with ancient DNA and zooarchaeological taxonomic information, while further palaeoproteomics investigations are ongoing. Our new data from the re-discovery of the Uluzzo C Rock Shelter represent an important contribution to better understand the meaning of the Uluzzian in the context of the Middle/Upper Palaeolithic transition in south-eastern Italy.

RevDate: 2022-08-23
CmpDate: 2022-07-26

Liu Y, Bennett EA, Q Fu (2022)

Evolving ancient DNA techniques and the future of human history.

Cell, 185(15):2632-2635.

Ancient DNA (aDNA) techniques applied to human genomics have significantly advanced in the past decade, enabling large-scale aDNA research, sometimes independent of human remains. This commentary reviews the major milestones of aDNA techniques and explores future directions to expand the scope of aDNA research and insights into present-day human health.

RevDate: 2022-07-24
CmpDate: 2022-07-22

Gòdia M, Brogaard L, Mármol-Sánchez E, et al (2022)

Urinary microRNAome in healthy cats and cats with pyelonephritis or other urological conditions.

PloS one, 17(7):e0270067.

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. miRNAs have been found in urine and have shown diagnostic potential in human nephropathies. Here, we aimed to characterize, for the first time, the feline urinary miRNAome and explore the use of urinary miRNA profiles as non-invasive biomarkers for feline pyelonephritis (PN). Thirty-eight cats were included in a prospective case-control study and classified in five groups: healthy Control cats (n = 11), cats with PN (n = 10), cats with subclinical bacteriuria or cystitis (SB/C, n = 5), cats with ureteral obstruction (n = 7) and cats with chronic kidney disease (n = 5). By small RNA sequencing we identified 212 miRNAs in cat urine, including annotated (n = 137) and putative novel (n = 75) miRNAs. The 15 most highly abundant urinary miRNAs accounted for nearly 71% of all detected miRNAs, most of which were previously identified in feline kidney. Ninety-nine differentially abundant (DA) miRNAs were identified when comparing Control cats to cats with urological conditions and 102 DA miRNAs when comparing PN to other urological conditions. Tissue clustering analysis revealed that the majority of urine samples clustered close to kidney, which confirm the likely cellular origin of the secreted urinary miRNAs. Relevant DA miRNAs were verified by quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR). Eighteen miRNAs discriminated Control cats from cats with a urological condition. Of those, seven miRNAs were DA by both RNAseq and qPCR methods between Control and PN cats (miR-125b-5p, miR-27a-3p, miR-21-5p, miR-27b-3p, miR-125a-5p, miR-17-5p and miR-23a-3p) or DA between Control and SB/C cats (miR-125b-5p). Six additional miRNAs (miR-30b-5p, miR-30c, miR-30e-5p, miR-27a-3p, miR-27b-39 and miR-222) relevant for discriminating PN from other urological conditions were identified by qPCR alone (n = 4) or by both methods (n = 2) (P<0.05). This panel of 13 miRNAs has potential as non-invasive urinary biomarkers for diagnostic of PN and other urological conditions in cats.

RevDate: 2022-08-22
CmpDate: 2022-07-28

Zhang X, Ji X, Li C, et al (2022)

A Late Pleistocene human genome from Southwest China.

Current biology : CB, 32(14):3095-3109.e5.

Southern East Asia is the dispersal center regarding the prehistoric settlement and migrations of modern humans in Asia-Pacific regions. However, the settlement pattern and population structure of paleolithic humans in this region remain elusive, and ancient DNA can provide direct information. Here, we sequenced the genome of a Late Pleistocene hominin (MZR), dated ∼14.0 thousand years ago from Red Deer Cave located in Southwest China, which was previously reported possessing mosaic features of modern and archaic hominins. MZR is the first Late Pleistocene genome from southern East Asia. Our results indicate that MZR is a modern human who represents an early diversified lineage in East Asia. The mtDNA of MZR belongs to an extinct basal lineage of the M9 haplogroup, reflecting a rich matrilineal diversity in southern East Asia during the Late Pleistocene. Combined with the published data, we detected clear genetic stratification in ancient southern populations of East/Southeast Asia and some degree of south-versus-north divergency during the Late Pleistocene, and MZR was identified as a southern East Asian who exhibits genetic continuity to present day populations. Markedly, MZR is linked deeply to the East Asian ancestry that contributed to First Americans.

RevDate: 2022-09-22
CmpDate: 2022-07-18

Askari Z, Ruehli F, Bouwman A, et al (2022)

Genomic palaeoparasitology traced the occurrence of Taenia asiatica in ancient Iran (Sassanid Empire, 2th cent. CE-6th cent. CE).

Scientific reports, 12(1):12045.

Palaeoparasitology investigates parasitological infections in animals and humans of past distance by examining biological remains. Palaeofaeces (or coprolites) are biological remains that provide valuable information on the disease, diet, and population movements in ancient times. Today, advances in detecting ancient DNA have cast light on dark corners that microscopy could never reach. The archaeological site of the Chehrabad salt mine of Achaemenid (550-330 BC) and Sassanid (third-seventh century AD) provides remains of various biotic and abiotic samples, including animal coprolites, for multidisciplinary studies. In the present work, we investigated coprolites for helminth eggs and larvae by microscopy and traced their biological agents' DNA by Next Generation Sequencing. Our results revealed various helminths, including Taenia asiatica, the species introduced in the 1990s. Implementing advanced modern molecular techniques like NGS gives a paramount view of pathogenic agents in space and time.

RevDate: 2022-08-17
CmpDate: 2022-07-13

Estrada O, Richards SM, J Breen (2022)

Discovering the Secrets of Ancient Plants: Recovery of DNA from Museum and Archaeological Plant Specimens.

Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.), 2512:261-267.

Plant DNA preserved in ancient specimens has recently gained importance as a tool in comparative genomics, allowing the investigation of evolutionary processes in plant genomes through time. However, recovering the genomic information contained in such specimens is challenging owing to the presence of secondary substances that limit DNA retrieval. In this chapter, we provide a DNA extraction protocol optimized for the recovery of DNA from degraded plant materials. The protocol is based on a commercially available DNA extraction kit that does not require handling of hazardous reagents.

RevDate: 2022-08-26
CmpDate: 2022-08-05

Psonis N, Vardinoyannis K, N Poulakakis (2022)

High-throughput degraded DNA sequencing of subfossil shells of a critically endangered stenoendemic land snail in the Aegean.

Molecular phylogenetics and evolution, 175:107561.

High-throughput sequencing has enabled the comprehensive genetic exploration of biological diversity, especially by using natural history collections to study hard-to-find, threatened or even extinct-in-the-wild taxa. Mollusk shells are under-exploited as a source for DNA-based approaches, despite their apparent advantages in the field of conservation genetics. More particularly, degraded DNA techniques combined with high-throughput sequencing have never been used to gain insights about the DNA preservation in land snail subfossil or historical shells. Here, we applied degraded DNA analysis on two historical shells of Levantina rechingeri, a stenoendemic Critically Endangered species that has never been found alive, in order to explore the patterns of DNA preservation on land snail shells originating from the eastern Mediterranean, as well as to infer its molecular phylogenetic placement. Our results showed that centuries to decades-old DNA from an empty shell collected in an Aegean island exhibits characteristic post-mortem damage patterns similar to those observed in ancient DNA from eastern Mediterranean terrestrial animals, setting a precedent for future museomics studies on taxa distributed in areas with similar climate. Finally, genome skimming of the empty shell allowed high coverage of multiple nuclear and mitochondrial loci, enabling the phylogenetic placement of the focal taxon, the re-evaluation of its taxonomic classification, and the revealing of a new Aegean land snail lineage, Aristena genus novum. This approach is a non-invasive way to sample DNA from threatened land snail species and suitable to study the evolutionary history of taxa with cryptic ecology, stenoendemics, or extinct-in-the-wild, as well as old museum specimens.

RevDate: 2022-07-16

Marinček P, Wagner ND, S Tomasello (2022)

Ancient DNA extraction methods for herbarium specimens: When is it worth the effort?.

Applications in plant sciences, 10(3):e11477.

Premise: Herbaria harbor a tremendous number of plant specimens that are rarely used for molecular systematic studies, largely due to the difficulty in extracting sufficient amounts of high-quality DNA from the preserved plant material.

Methods: We compared the standard Qiagen DNeasy Plant Mini Kit and a specific protocol for extracting ancient DNA (aDNA) (the N-phenacylthiazolium bromide and dithiothreitol [PTB-DTT] extraction method) from two different plant genera (Xanthium and Salix). The included herbarium materials covered about two centuries of plant collections. To analyze the success of DNA extraction using each method, a subset of samples was subjected to a standard library preparation as well as target-enrichment approaches.

Results: The PTB-DTT method produced a higher DNA yield of better quality than the Qiagen kit; however, extracts from the Qiagen kit over a certain DNA yield and quality threshold produced comparable sequencing results. The sequencing resulted in high proportions of endogenous reads. We were able to successfully sequence 200-year-old samples.

Discussion: This method comparison revealed that, for younger specimens, DNA extraction using a standard kit might be sufficient. For old and precious herbarium specimens, aDNA extraction methods are better suited to meet the requirements for next-generation sequencing.

RevDate: 2022-07-11
CmpDate: 2022-07-04

Liu YC, Hunter-Anderson R, Cheronet O, et al (2022)

Ancient DNA reveals five streams of migration into Micronesia and matrilocality in early Pacific seafarers.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 377(6601):72-79.

Micronesia began to be peopled earlier than other parts of Remote Oceania, but the origins of its inhabitants remain unclear. We generated genome-wide data from 164 ancient and 112 modern individuals. Analysis reveals five migratory streams into Micronesia. Three are East Asian related, one is Polynesian, and a fifth is a Papuan source related to mainland New Guineans that is different from the New Britain-related Papuan source for southwest Pacific populations but is similarly derived from male migrants ~2500 to 2000 years ago. People of the Mariana Archipelago may derive all of their precolonial ancestry from East Asian sources, making them the only Remote Oceanians without Papuan ancestry. Female-inherited mitochondrial DNA was highly differentiated across early Remote Oceanian communities but homogeneous within, implying matrilocal practices whereby women almost never raised their children in communities different from the ones in which they grew up.


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.

Electronic Scholarly Publishing
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Bellingham, WA 98226

E-mail: RJR8222 @

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 )