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26 Jan 2022 at 01:35
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Bibliography on: Paleontology Meets Genomics — Sequencing Ancient DNA


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RJR: Recommended Bibliography 26 Jan 2022 at 01:35 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: 2022-01-20

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

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

Environmental microbiology [Epub ahead of print].

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

RevDate: 2022-01-20

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

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

Frontiers in oral health, 2:641328.

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

RevDate: 2022-01-17

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

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

Molecular ecology [Epub ahead of print].

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

RevDate: 2022-01-17

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

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

BioTechniques [Epub ahead of print].

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

RevDate: 2022-01-18
CmpDate: 2022-01-18

Pedersen MW, De Sanctis B, Saremi NF, et al (2021)

Environmental genomics of Late Pleistocene black bears and giant short-faced bears.

Current biology : CB, 31(12):2728-2736.e8.

Analysis of ancient environmental DNA (eDNA) has revolutionized our ability to describe biological communities in space and time,1-3 by allowing for parallel sequencing of DNA from all trophic levels.4-8 However, because environmental samples contain sparse and fragmented data from multiple individuals, and often contain closely related species,9 the field of ancient eDNA has so far been limited to organellar genomes in its contribution to population and phylogenetic studies.5,6,10,11 This is in contrast to data from fossils12,13 where full-genome studies are routine, despite these being rare and their destruction for sequencing undesirable.14-16 Here, we report the retrieval of three low-coverage (0.03×) environmental genomes from American black bear (Ursus americanus) and a 0.04× environmental genome of the extinct giant short-faced bear (Arctodus simus) from cave sediment samples from northern Mexico dated to 16-14 thousand calibrated years before present (cal kyr BP), which we contextualize with a new high-coverage (26×) and two lower-coverage giant short-faced bear genomes obtained from fossils recovered from Yukon Territory, Canada, which date to ∼22-50 cal kyr BP. We show that the Late Pleistocene black bear population in Mexico is ancestrally related to the present-day Eastern American black bear population, and that the extinct giant short-faced bears present in Mexico were deeply divergent from the earlier Beringian population. Our findings demonstrate the ability to separately analyze genomic-scale DNA sequences of closely related species co-preserved in environmental samples, which brings the use of ancient eDNA into the era of population genomics and phylogenetics.

RevDate: 2022-01-11

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

Pleistocene mitogenomes reconstructed from the environmental DNA of permafrost sediments.

Current biology : CB pii:S0960-9822(21)01699-7 [Epub ahead of print].

Traditionally, paleontologists have relied on the morphological features of bones and teeth to reconstruct the evolutionary relationships of extinct animals.1 In recent decades, the analysis of ancient DNA recovered from macrofossils has provided a powerful means to evaluate these hypotheses and develop novel phylogenetic models.2 Although a great deal of life history data can be extracted from bones, their scarcity and associated biases limit their information potential. The paleontological record of Beringia3-the unglaciated areas and former land bridge between northeast Eurasia and northwest North America-is relatively robust thanks to its perennially frozen ground favoring fossil preservation.4,5 However, even here, the macrofossil record is significantly lacking in small-bodied fauna (e.g., rodents and birds), whereas questions related to migration and extirpation, even among well-studied taxa, remain crudely resolved. The growing sophistication of ancient environmental DNA (eDNA) methods have allowed for the identification of species within terrestrial/aquatic ecosystems,6-12 in paleodietary reconstructions,13-19 and facilitated genomic reconstructions from cave contexts.8,20-22 Murchie et al.6,23 used a capture enrichment approach to sequence a diverse range of faunal and floral DNA from permafrost silts deposited during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition.24 Here, we expand on their work with the mitogenomic assembly and phylogenetic placement of Equus caballus (caballine horse), Bison priscus (steppe bison), Mammuthus primigenius (woolly mammoth), and Lagopus lagopus (willow ptarmigan) eDNA from multiple permafrost cores spanning the last 30,000 years. We identify a diverse metagenomic spectra of Pleistocene fauna and identify the eDNA co-occurrence of distinct Eurasian and American mitogenomic lineages.

RevDate: 2022-01-10

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

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

Ecology and evolution, 11(24):18743-18748 pii:ECE38297.

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

RevDate: 2022-01-06

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

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

iScience, 25(1):103559 pii:S2589-0042(21)01529-7.

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

RevDate: 2022-01-06

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

Ancient DNA diffuses from human bones to cave stones.

iScience, 24(12):103397 pii:S2589-0042(21)01368-7.

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

RevDate: 2021-12-31

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

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

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

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

RevDate: 2021-12-28

Pedersen MW, Antunes C, De Cahsan B, et al (2021)

Ancient human genomes and environmental DNA from the cement attaching 2,000 year-old head lice nits.

Molecular biology and evolution pii:6481551 [Epub ahead of print].

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

RevDate: 2022-01-03

Thomas ZA, Mooney S, Cadd H, et al (2021)

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

RevDate: 2022-01-03

Anagnostou P, Capocasa M, Brisighelli F, et al (2021)

The emerging complexity of Open Science: assessing Intelligent Data Openness in Genomic Anthropology and Human Genomics.

Journal of anthropological sciences = Rivista di antropologia : JASS, 99:135-152 [Epub ahead of print].

In recent decades, the scientific community has become aware of the importance of science being effectively open in order to speed up scientific and technological progress. In this context, the achievement of a robust, effective and responsible form of data sharing is now widely acknowledged as a fundamental part of the research process. The production and resolution of human genomic data has steadily increased in recent years, mainly due to technological advances and decreasing costs of DNA genotyping and sequencing. There is, however, a downside to this process due to the huge increase in the complexity of the data and related metadata. This means it is advisable to go beyond traditional forms of sharing analysis, which have focused on data availability only. Here we present a pilot study that aims to complement a survey on the availability of data related to peer-reviewed publications with an analysis of their findability, accessibility, useability and assessability (according to the "intelligent data openness" scheme). Sharing rates in genomic anthropology (73.0%) were found to be higher than human genomics (32.4%), but lower than closely related research fields (from 96.8% to 79.2% for paleogenetics and evolutionary genetics, respectively). We discuss the privacy and methodological issues that could be linked to this finding. Comparisons of sharing rates across a wide range of disciplines has suggested that the idea of human genomics as a forerunner for the open data movement should be questioned. Finally, both in genomic anthropology and human genomics, findability and useability were found to be compliant with the expectations of an intelligent data openness, whereas only a minor part of studies met the need to make the data completely assessable.

RevDate: 2021-12-29

Haarkötter C, Saiz M, Gálvez X, et al (2021)

Usefulness of Microbiome for Forensic Geolocation: A Review.

Life (Basel, Switzerland), 11(12):.

Forensic microbiomics is a promising tool for crime investigation. Geolocation, which connects an individual to a certain place or location by microbiota, has been fairly well studied in the literature, and several applications have been found. The aim of this review is to highlight the main findings in this field, including the current sample storage, DNA extraction, sequencing and data analysis techniques that are being used, and its potential applications in human trafficking and ancient DNA studies. Second, the challenges and limitations of forensic microbiomics and geolocation are emphasised, providing recommendations for the establishment of this tool in the forensic science community.

RevDate: 2021-12-24

Fowler C, Olalde I, Cummings V, et al (2021)

A high-resolution picture of kinship practices in an Early Neolithic tomb.

Nature [Epub ahead of print].

To explore kinship practices at chambered tombs in Early Neolithic Britain, here we combined archaeological and genetic analyses of 35 individuals who lived about 5,700 years ago and were entombed at Hazleton North long cairn1. Twenty-seven individuals are part of the first extended pedigree reconstructed from ancient DNA, a five-generation family whose many interrelationships provide statistical power to document kinship practices that were invisible without direct genetic data. Patrilineal descent was key in determining who was buried in the tomb, as all 15 intergenerational transmissions were through men. The presence of women who had reproduced with lineage men and the absence of adult lineage daughters suggest virilocal burial and female exogamy. We demonstrate that one male progenitor reproduced with four women: the descendants of two of those women were buried in the same half of the tomb over all generations. This suggests that maternal sub-lineages were grouped into branches whose distinctiveness was recognized during the construction of the tomb. Four men descended from non-lineage fathers and mothers who also reproduced with lineage male individuals, suggesting that some men adopted the children of their reproductive partners by other men into their patriline. Eight individuals were not close biological relatives of the main lineage, raising the possibility that kinship also encompassed social bonds independent of biological relatedness.

RevDate: 2021-12-23

Andreeva T, Manakhov A, Kunizheva S, et al (2021)

Genetic Evidence of Authenticity of a Hair Shaft Relic from the Portrait of Tsesarevich Alexei, Son of the Last Russian Emperor.

Biochemistry. Biokhimiia, 86(12):1572-1578.

To determine the value of an art piece, authenticity of the artwork must be verified. We demonstrate here a genetic approach to determine origin of a historic relic in the museum piece. We tested two hair shafts of unknown origin framed into a watercolor portrait of Tsesarevich Alexei Romanov, son of the last Russian Tzar Nicholas II, which is a unique item kept in the State Historical Museum. Genetic identification of the hair shafts was performed by analysis of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) markers using both massive parallel genomic sequencing and multiplex targeted PCR, followed by Sanger sequencing. In previous works, we reconstructed the complete mtDNA sequence inherited to Alexei Romanov through the Queen Victoria lineage [Rogaev et al. (2009) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 106, 5258-5263]. DNA extracts were obtained from the two thin hair shafts and used for comparative genetic analysis. Despite the very low quantity and quality of the DNA templates retrieved from the historical single hair shaft specimen, informative mtDNA sequences were determined. The mtDNA haplotype in the hair shafts corresponds to the mtDNA haplotype of Tsarevich Alexei, his sisters, and his mother, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. This haplotype remains unique in the currently available mtDNA databases. Our results reveal that the hair relic from the portrait is associated with the family of the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II. The study is an example of first application of the genetic methodology for verification of the value of museum artwork items.

RevDate: 2021-12-23

Zhur KV, Trifonov VA, EB Prokhortchouk (2021)

Progress and Prospects in Epigenetic Studies of Ancient DNA.

Biochemistry. Biokhimiia, 86(12):1563-1571.

Development of technologies for high-throughput whole-genome sequencing and improvement of sample preparation techniques made it possible to study ancient DNA (aDNA) from archaeological samples over a million year old. The studies of aDNA have shed light on the history of human migration, replacement of populations, interbreeding of Cro-Magnons with Neanderthals and Denisovans, evolution of human pathogens, etc. Equally important is the possibility to investigate epigenetic modifications of ancient genomes, which has allowed to obtain previously inaccessible information on gene expression, nucleosome positioning, and DNA methylation. Analysis of methylation status of certain genomic sites can predict an individual's age at death and reconstruct some phenotypic features, as it was done for the Denisovan genome, and even to elucidate unfavorable environmental factors that had affected this archaic individual. In this review, we discuss current progress in epigenetic studies of aDNA, including methodological approaches and promising research directions in this field.

RevDate: 2021-12-22

Bianciotto V, Selosse MA, Martos F, et al (2021)

Herbaria preserve plant microbiota responses to environmental changes.

Trends in plant science pii:S1360-1385(21)00318-6 [Epub ahead of print].

Interaction between plants and their microbiota is a central theme to understand adaptation of plants to their environment. Considering herbaria as repositories of holobionts that preserved traces of ancient plant-associated microbial communities, we propose to explore these historical collections to evaluate the impact of long-lasting global changes on plant-microbiota interactions.

RevDate: 2021-12-24

Renom P, de-Dios T, Civit S, et al (2021)

Genetic data from the extinct giant rat from Tenerife (Canary Islands) points to a recent divergence from mainland relatives.

Biology letters, 17(12):20210533.

Evolution of vertebrate endemics in oceanic islands follows a predictable pattern, known as the island rule, according to which gigantism arises in originally small-sized species and dwarfism in large ones. Species of extinct insular giant rodents are known from all over the world. In the Canary Islands, two examples of giant rats, †Canariomys bravoi and †Canariomys tamarani, endemic to Tenerife and Gran Canaria, respectively, disappeared soon after human settlement. The highly derived morphological features of these insular endemic rodents hamper the reconstruction of their evolutionary histories. We have retrieved partial nuclear and mitochondrial data from †C. bravoi and used this information to explore its evolutionary affinities. The resulting dated phylogeny confidently places †C. bravoi within the African grass rat clade (Arvicanthis niloticus). The estimated divergence time, 650 000 years ago (95% higher posterior densities: 373 000-944 000), points toward an island colonization during the Günz-Mindel interglacial stage. †Canariomys bravoi ancestors would have reached the island via passive rafting and then underwent a yearly increase of mean body mass calculated between 0.0015 g and 0.0023 g; this corresponds to fast evolutionary rates (in darwins (d), ranging from 7.09 d to 2.78 d) that are well above those observed for non-insular mammals.

RevDate: 2021-12-28

Der Sarkissian C, Velsko IM, Fotakis AK, et al (2021)

Ancient Metagenomic Studies: Considerations for the Wider Scientific Community.

mSystems, 6(6):e0131521.

Like modern metagenomics, ancient metagenomics is a highly data-rich discipline, with the added challenge that the DNA of interest is degraded and, depending on the sample type, in low abundance. This requires the application of specialized measures during molecular experiments and computational analyses. Furthermore, researchers often work with finite sample sizes, which impedes optimal experimental design and control of confounding factors, and with ethically sensitive samples necessitating the consideration of additional guidelines. In September 2020, early career researchers in the field of ancient metagenomics met (Standards, Precautions & Advances in Ancient Metagenomics 2 [SPAAM2] community meeting) to discuss the state of the field and how to address current challenges. Here, in an effort to bridge the gap between ancient and modern metagenomics, we highlight and reflect upon some common misconceptions, provide a brief overview of the challenges in our field, and point toward useful resources for potential reviewers and newcomers to the field.

RevDate: 2021-12-20

Parker CE, Bos KI, Haak W, et al (2021)

Optimized Bone Sampling Protocols for the Retrieval of Ancient DNA from Archaeological Remains.

Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE.

The methods presented here seek to maximize the chances for the recovery of human DNA from ancient archaeological remains while limiting input sample material. This was done by targeting anatomical sampling locations previously determined to yield the highest amounts of ancient DNA (aDNA) in a comparative analysis of DNA recovery across the skeleton. Prior research has suggested that these protocols maximize the chances for the successful recovery of ancient human and pathogen DNA from archaeological remains. DNA yields were previously assessed by Parker et al. 2020 in a broad survey of aDNA preservation across multiple skeletal elements from 11 individuals recovered from the medieval (radiocarbon dated to a period of circa (ca.) 1040-1400 CE, calibrated 2-sigma range) graveyard at Krakauer Berg, an abandoned medieval settlement near Peißen Germany. These eight sampling spots, which span five skeletal elements (pars petrosa, permanent molars, thoracic vertebra, distal phalanx, and talus) successfully yielded high-quality ancient human DNA, where yields were significantly greater than the overall average across all elements and individuals. Yields were adequate for use in most common downstream population genetic analyses. Our results support the preferential use of these anatomical sampling locations for most studies involving the analyses of ancient human DNA from archaeological remains. Implementation of these methods will help to minimize the destruction of precious archaeological specimens.

RevDate: 2021-12-15

Liu X, Zhang Y, Liu W, et al (2021)

A single-nucleotide mutation within the TBX3 enhancer increased body size in Chinese horses.

Current biology : CB pii:S0960-9822(21)01611-0 [Epub ahead of print].

Chinese ponies are endemic to the mountainous areas of southwestern China and were first reported in the archaeological record at the Royal Tomb of Zhongshan King, Mancheng, dated to approximately ∼2,100 YBP.1 Previous work has started uncovering the genetic basis of size variation in western ponies and horses, revealing a limited number of loci, including HMGA2,2LCORL/NCAPG,3ZFAT, and LASP1.4,5 Whether the same genetic pathways also drive the small body size of Chinese ponies, which show striking anatomical differences to Shetland ponies,6 remains unclear.2,7 To test this, we combined whole-genome sequences of 187 horses across China. Statistical analyses revealed top association between genetic variation at the T-box transcription factor 3 (TBX3) and the body size. Fine-scale analysis across an extended population of 189 ponies and 574 horses narrowed down the association to one A/G SNP at an enhancer region upstream of the TBX3 (ECA8:20,644,555, p = 2.34e-39). Luciferase assays confirmed the single-nucleotide G mutation upregulating TBX3 expression, and enhancer-knockout mice exhibited shorter limbs than wild-type littermates (p < 0.01). Re-analysis of ancient DNA data showed that the G allele, which is most frequent in modern horses, first occurred some ∼2,300 years ago and rose in frequency since. This supports selection for larger size in Asia from approximately the beginning of the Chinese Empire. Overall, this study characterized the causal regulatory mutation underlying small body size in Chinese ponies and revealed size as one of the main selection targets of past Chinese breeders.

RevDate: 2021-12-13

Zhang M, Liu Y, Li Z, et al (2021)

Ancient DNA reveals the maternal genetic history of East Asian domestic pigs.

Journal of genetics and genomics = Yi chuan xue bao pii:S1673-8527(21)00368-4 [Epub ahead of print].

Zoo-archaeological and genetic evidence suggest that pigs were domesticated independently in Central China and Eastern Anatolia along with the development of agricultural communities and civilizations. However, the genetic history of domestic pigs, especially in China, has not been fully explored. In this study, we generated 42 complete mitochondrial DNA sequences from ∼7500- to 2750-year-old individuals from the Yellow River basin. Our results show that the maternal genetic continuity of East Asian domestic pigs dates back to at least the Early to Middle Neolithic. In contrast, the Near Eastern ancestry in European domestic pigs saw a near-complete genomic replacement by the European wild boar. The majority of East Asian domestic pigs share close haplotypes, and the most recent common ancestor of most branches dates back to less than 20,000 years before present, inferred using new substitution rates of whole mitogenomes or combined protein-coding regions. Two major population expansion events of East Asian domestic pigs coincided with changes in climate, widespread adoption of introduced crops, and the development of agrarian societies. These findings add to our understanding of the maternal genetic composition and help to complete the picture of domestic pig evolutionary history in East Asia.

RevDate: 2021-12-11

Garg KM, Chattopadhyay B, Cros E, et al (2021)

Island biogeography revisited: Museomics reveals affinities of shelf island birds determined by bathymetry and paleo-rivers, not by distance to mainland.

Molecular biology and evolution pii:6454101 [Epub ahead of print].

Island biogeography is one of the most powerful subdisciplines of ecology: its mathematical predictions that island size and distance to mainland determine diversity have withstood the test of time. A key question is whether these predictions follow at a population-genomic level. Using rigorous ancient-DNA protocols, we retrieved ∼1000 genomic markers from ∼100 historic specimens of two Southeast Asian songbird complexes from across the Sunda Shelf archipelago collected 1893-1957. We show that the genetic affinities of populations on small shelf islands defy the predictions of geographic distance and appear governed by Earth-historic factors including the position of terrestrial barriers (paleo-rivers) and length of persistence of corridors (Quaternary land bridges). Our analyses suggest that classic island-biogeographic predictors may not hold well for population-genomic dynamics on the thousands of shelf islands across the globe, which are exposed to dynamic changes in land distribution during Quaternary climate change.

RevDate: 2021-12-11

Zhang X, Yang L, Hou L, et al (2021)

Ancient Mitogenomes Reveal the Domestication and Distribution of Cattle During the Longshan Culture Period in North China.

Frontiers in genetics, 12:759827.

Cattle, as an important tool for agricultural production in ancient China, have a complex history of domestication and distribution in China. Although it is generally accepted that ancient Chinese taurine cattle originated from the Near East, the explanation regarding their spread through China and whether or not this spread was associated with native aurochs during ancient times are still unclear. In this study, we obtained three nearly complete mitochondrial genomes (mitogenomes) from bovine remains dating back ca. 4,000 years at the Taosi and Guchengzhai sites in North China. For the first time at the mitogenome level, phylogenetic analyses confirmed the approximately 4,000-year-old bovines from North China as taurine cattle. All ancient cattle from both sites belonged to the T3 haplogroup, suggesting their origin from the Near East. The high affinity between ancient samples and southern Chinese taurine cattle indicated that ancient Chinese cattle had a genetic contribution to the taurine cattle of South China. A rapid decrease in the female effective population size ca. 4.65 thousand years ago (kya) and a steep increase ca. 1.99 kya occurred in Chinese taurine cattle. Overall, these results provide increasing evidence of the origin of cattle in the middle Yellow River region of China.

RevDate: 2021-12-27

Haas C, Körner C, Sulzer A, et al (2022)

19th century family saga re-told by DNA recovered from postcard stamps.

Forensic science international, 330:111129.

Old postcards with stamps might help unravelling historical family stories and relationships. By employing ancient DNA recovered from world war I postage stamps, we disprove a family saga of an illegitimate child born in 1887. We developed a protocol to collect DNA from saliva, trapped and protected on the backside of postage stamps glued on postcards. With replicate STR analyses we were able to assemble almost full autosomal and Y-STR profiles of three male, deceased family members. The illegitimate child turned out to be a legitimate child of a later married couple.

RevDate: 2021-12-28

Murchie TJ, Monteath AJ, Mahony ME, et al (2021)

Collapse of the mammoth-steppe in central Yukon as revealed by ancient environmental DNA.

Nature communications, 12(1):7120.

The temporal and spatial coarseness of megafaunal fossil records complicates attempts to to disentangle the relative impacts of climate change, ecosystem restructuring, and human activities associated with the Late Quaternary extinctions. Advances in the extraction and identification of ancient DNA that was shed into the environment and preserved for millennia in sediment now provides a way to augment discontinuous palaeontological assemblages. Here, we present a 30,000-year sedimentary ancient DNA (sedaDNA) record derived from loessal permafrost silts in the Klondike region of Yukon, Canada. We observe a substantial turnover in ecosystem composition between 13,500 and 10,000 calendar years ago with the rise of woody shrubs and the disappearance of the mammoth-steppe (steppe-tundra) ecosystem. We also identify a lingering signal of Equus sp. (North American horse) and Mammuthus primigenius (woolly mammoth) at multiple sites persisting thousands of years after their supposed extinction from the fossil record.

RevDate: 2021-12-01

Smith RW, AL Non (2021)

Assessing the achievements and uncertain future of paleoepigenomics.

RevDate: 2022-01-05
CmpDate: 2022-01-05

Tsosie KS, Bader AC, Fox K, et al (2021)

Ancient-DNA researchers write their own rules.

Nature, 600(7887):37.

RevDate: 2022-01-05
CmpDate: 2022-01-05

Somel M, Altınışık NE, Özer F, et al (2021)

Collaborate equitably in ancient DNA research and beyond.

Nature, 600(7887):37.

RevDate: 2022-01-05
CmpDate: 2022-01-05

Nath S, Zilm P, Jamieson L, et al (2021)

Development and characterization of an oral microbiome transplant among Australians for the treatment of dental caries and periodontal disease: A study protocol.

PloS one, 16(11):e0260433.

BACKGROUND: Oral microbiome transplantation (OMT) is a novel concept of introducing health-associated oral microbiota into the oral cavity of a diseased patient. The premise is to reverse the state of oral dysbiosis, and restore the ecological balance to maintain a stable homeostasis with the host immune system. This study will assess the effectiveness, feasibility, and safety of OMT using an interdisciplinary approach.

METHODS/DESIGN: To find donors suitable for microbial transplantation, supragingival plaque samples will be collected from 600 healthy participants. Each sample (200μL) will subsequently be examined in two ways: 1) 100μL of the sample will undergo high-throughput 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing and shotgun sequencing to identify the composition and characterisation of a healthy supragingival microbiome, 2) the remaining 100μL of the plaque sample will be mixed with 25% artificial saliva medium and inoculated into a specialised in-vitro flow cell model containing a hydroxyapatite disk. To obtain sufficient donor plaque, the samples would be grown for 14 days and further analysed microscopically and sequenced to examine and confirm the growth and survival of the microbiota. Samples with the healthiest microbiota would then be incorporated in a hydrogel delivery vehicle to enable transplantation of the donor oral microbiota. The third step would be to test the effectiveness of OMT in caries and periodontitis animal models for efficacy and safety for the treatment of oral diseases.

DISCUSSION: If OMTs are found to be successful, it can form a new treatment method for common oral diseases such as dental caries and periodontitis. OMTs may have the potential to modulate the oral microbiota and shift the ecological imbalances to a healthier state.

RevDate: 2021-11-30

Sharma M, Chopra C, Mehta M, et al (2021)

An Insight into Vaginal Microbiome Techniques.

Life (Basel, Switzerland), 11(11):.

There is a unique microbial community in the female lower genital tract known as the vaginal microbiota, which varies in composition and density and provides significant benefits during pregnancy, reproductive cyclicity, healthy newborn delivery, protection from preterm birth, infections such as UTIs, bacterial vaginosis, and so on, and improves the efficacy of treatments for vaginal cancers. Methods: It is necessary to know how the vaginal microbiome is composed in order to make an accurate diagnosis of the diseases listed above. A microbiome's members are difficult to classify, and the way microbial communities function and influence host-pathogen interactions are difficult to understand. More and more metagenomic studies are able to unravel such complexities due to advances in high-throughput sequencing and bioinformatics. When it comes to vaginal microbiota research, we'll be looking at the use of modern techniques and strategies that can be used to investigate variations in vaginal microbiota in order to detect diseases earlier, better treat vaginal disorders, and boost women's health. Discussion: The discussed techniques and strategies may improve the treatment of vaginal disorders and may be beneficial for women's overall health.

RevDate: 2021-11-30

Raele DA, Panzarino G, Sarcinelli G, et al (2021)

Genetic Evidence of the Black Death in the Abbey of San Leonardo (Apulia Region, Italy): Tracing the Cause of Death in Two Individuals Buried with Coins.

Pathogens (Basel, Switzerland), 10(11):.

The Abbey of San Leonardo in Siponto (Apulia, Southern Italy) was an important religious and medical center during the Middle Ages. It was a crossroads for pilgrims heading along the Via Francigena to the Sanctuary of Monte Sant'Angelo and for merchants passing through the harbor of Manfredonia. A recent excavation of Soprintendenza Archeologica della Puglia investigated a portion of the related cemetery, confirming its chronology to be between the end of the 13th and beginning of the 14th century. Two single graves preserved individuals accompanied by numerous coins dating back to the 14th century, hidden in clothes and in a bag tied to the waist. The human remains of the individuals were analyzed in the Laboratorio di Antropologia Fisica of Soprintendenza ABAP della città metropolitana di Bari. Three teeth from each individual were collected and sent to the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale di Puglia e Basilicata to study infectious diseases such as malaria, plague, tuberculosis, epidemic typhus and Maltese fever (Brucellosis), potentially related to the lack of inspection of the bodies during burial procedures. DNA extracted from six collected teeth and two additional unrelated human teeth (negative controls) were analyzed using PCR to verify the presence of human DNA (β-globulin) and of pathogens such as Plasmodium spp., Yersinia pestis, Mycobacterium spp., Rickettsia spp. and Brucella spp. The nucleotide sequence of the amplicon was determined to confirm the results. Human DNA was successfully amplified from all eight dental extracts and two different genes of Y. pestis were amplified and sequenced in 4 out of the 6 teeth. Molecular analyses ascertained that the individuals buried in San Leonardo were victims of the Black Death (1347-1353) and the data confirmed the lack of inspection of the corpses despite the presence of numerous coins. This study represents molecular evidence, for the first time, of Southern Italy's involvement in the second wave of the plague pandemic.

RevDate: 2021-11-27

Baca M, Popović D, Lemanik A, et al (2021)

The Tien Shan vole (Microtus ilaeus; Rodentia: Cricetidae) as a new species in the Late Pleistocene of Europe.

Ecology and evolution, 11(22):16113-16125.

Grey voles (subgenus Microtus) represent a complex of at least seven closely related and partly cryptic species. The range of these species extends from the Atlantic to the Altai Mountains, but most of them occur east of the Black Sea. Using ancient DNA analyses of the Late Pleistocene specimens, we identified a new mtDNA lineage of grey voles in Europe. Phylogenetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b sequences from 23 voles from three caves, namely, Emine-Bair-Khosar (Crimea, Ukraine), Cave 16 (Bulgaria), and Bacho Kiro (Bulgaria), showed that 14 specimens form a previously unrecognized lineage, sister to the Tien Shan vole. The average sequence divergence of this lineage and the extant Tien Shan vole was 4.8%, which is similar to the divergence of grey vole forms, which are considered distinct species or being on the verge of speciation; M. arvalis and M. obscurus or M. mystacinus and M. rossiaemeridionalis. We estimated the time to the most recent common ancestor of the grey voles to be 0.66 Ma, which is over twice the recent estimates, while the divergence of the extant Tien Shan vole and the new lineage to be 0.29 Ma. Our discovery suggests that grey voles may have been more diversified in the past and that their ranges may have differed substantially from current ones. It also underlines the utility of ancient DNA to decipher the evolutionary history of voles.

RevDate: 2021-11-23

Ning C, Zhang F, Cao Y, et al (2021)

Ancient genome analyses shed light on kinship organization and mating practice of Late Neolithic society in China.

iScience, 24(11):103352.

Anthropology began in the late nineteenth century with an emphasis on kinship as a key factor in human evolution. From the 1960s, archaeologists attempted increasingly sophisticated ways of reconstructing prehistoric kinship but ancient DNA analysis has transformed the field, making it possible, to directly examine kin relations from human skeletal remains. Here, we retrieved genomic data from four Late Neolithic individuals in central China associated with the Late Neolithic Longshan culture. We provide direct evidence of consanguineous mating in ancient China, revealing inbreeding among the Longshan populations. By combining ancient genomic data with anthropological and archaeological evidence, we further show that Longshan society household was built based on the extended beyond the nuclear family, coinciding with intensified social complexity during the Longshan period, perhaps showing the transformation of large communities through a new role of genetic kinship-based extended family units.

RevDate: 2021-11-22
CmpDate: 2021-11-22

Cooper A, Turney CSM, Palmer J, et al (2021)

Response to Comment on "A global environmental crisis 42,000 years ago".

Science (New York, N.Y.), 374(6570):eabh3655.

Our paper about the impacts of the Laschamps Geomagnetic Excursion 42,000 years ago has provoked considerable scientific and public interest, particularly in the so-called Adams Event associated with the initial transition of the magnetic poles. Although we welcome the opportunity to discuss our new ideas, Hawks' assertions of misrepresentation are especially disappointing given his limited examination of the material.

RevDate: 2021-11-22
CmpDate: 2021-11-22

Cooper A, Turney CSM, Palmer J, et al (2021)

Response to Comment on "A global environmental crisis 42,000 years ago".

Science (New York, N.Y.), 374(6570):eabi9756.

[Figure: see text].

RevDate: 2021-11-18

Moreno-Mayar JV (2021)

FrAnTK: a Frequency-based Analysis ToolKit for efficient exploration of allele sharing patterns in present-day and ancient genomic datasets.

G3 (Bethesda, Md.) pii:6395361 [Epub ahead of print].

Present-day and ancient population genomic studies from different study organisms have rapidly become accessible to diverse research groups worldwide. Unfortunately, as datasets and analyses become more complex, researchers with less computational experience often miss their chance to analyze their own data. We introduce FrAnTK, a user-friendly toolkit for computation and visualization of allele frequency-based statistics in ancient and present-day genome variation datasets. We provide fast, memory-efficient tools that allow the user to go from sequencing data to complex exploratory analyses and visual representations with minimal data manipulation. Its simple usage and low computational requirements make FrAnTK ideal for users that are less familiar with computer programming carrying out large-scale population studies.

RevDate: 2021-12-11

Zhang H, Sun Y, Zeng Q, et al (2021)

Snowball Earth, population bottleneck and Prochlorococcus evolution.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 288(1963):20211956.

Prochlorococcus are the most abundant photosynthetic organisms in the modern ocean. A massive DNA loss event occurred in their early evolutionary history, leading to highly reduced genomes in nearly all lineages, as well as enhanced efficiency in both nutrient uptake and light absorption. The environmental landscape that shaped this ancient genome reduction, however, remained unknown. Through careful molecular clock analyses, we established that this Prochlorococcus genome reduction occurred during the Neoproterozoic Snowball Earth climate catastrophe. The lethally low temperature and exceedingly dim light during the Snowball Earth event would have inhibited Prochlorococcus growth and proliferation, and caused severe population bottlenecks. These bottlenecks are recorded as an excess of deleterious mutations accumulated across genomic regions and inherited by descendant lineages. Prochlorococcus adaptation to extreme environmental conditions during Snowball Earth intervals can be inferred by tracing the evolutionary paths of genes that encode key metabolic potential. Key metabolic innovation includes modified lipopolysaccharide structure, strengthened peptidoglycan biosynthesis, the replacement of a sophisticated circadian clock with an hourglass-like mechanism that resets daily for dim light adaption and the adoption of ammonia diffusion as an efficient membrane transporter-independent mode of nitrogen acquisition. In this way, the Neoproterozoic Snowball Earth event may have altered the physiological characters of Prochlorococcus, shaping their ecologically vital role as the most abundant primary producers in the modern oceans.

RevDate: 2021-11-16

Tran LH, Chu PTM, Nguyen TH, et al (2021)

Genetic structure and population connection of two Bouyei populations in northern Vietnam based on short tandem repeat analysis.

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

OBJECTIVES: Genetic characteristics were investigated based on short tandem repeat (STR) data to assess the relationship between two Vietnamese Bouyei populations in Vietnam.

METHODS: We collected hair and buccal swab samples from two separate Bouyei populations in the mountainous region of Northern Vietnam, which are the Bo Y in Ha Giang Province and the Tu Di in Lao Cai Province. The study included data of 23 autosomal and 27 Y-chromosome STRs loci of 96 unrelated participants from a total Vietnamese Bouyei population of under 3300 individuals.

RESULTS: The results showed that these STR markers are valuable for differentiation of individuals and human genetic studies in Vietnamese Bouyei populations. Genetic analysis indicated that Tu Di and Bo Y people were from the same Bouyei population in China.

CONCLUSIONS: The results supported the official historical records of the region and the classification of the Vietnamese government. Furthermore, the genetic data provided in this study will be helpful in investigating the genetic genealogy evolution and settlement or migration patterns of the Bouyei populations in Vietnam.

RevDate: 2021-12-29

Lyu W, Dai X, Beaumont M, et al (2021)

Inferring the timing and strength of natural selection and gene migration in the evolution of chicken from ancient DNA data.

Molecular ecology resources [Epub ahead of print].

With the rapid growth of the number of sequenced ancient genomes, there has been increasing interest in using this new information to study past and present adaptation. Such an additional temporal component has the promise of providing improved power for the estimation of natural selection. Over the last decade, statistical approaches for the detection and quantification of natural selection from ancient DNA (aDNA) data have been developed. However, most of the existing methods do not allow us to estimate the timing of natural selection along with its strength, which is key to understanding the evolution and persistence of organismal diversity. Additionally, most methods ignore the fact that natural populations are almost always structured, which can result in an overestimation of the effect of natural selection. To address these issues, we introduce a novel Bayesian framework for the inference of natural selection and gene migration from aDNA data with Markov chain Monte Carlo techniques, co-estimating both timing and strength of natural selection and gene migration. Such an advance enables us to infer drivers of natural selection and gene migration by correlating genetic evolution with potential causes such as the changes in the ecological context in which an organism has evolved. The performance of our procedure is evaluated through extensive simulations, with its utility shown with an application to ancient chicken samples.

RevDate: 2021-11-30

Ferrari G, Atmore LM, Jentoft S, et al (2021)

An accurate assignment test for extremely low-coverage whole-genome sequence data.

Molecular ecology resources [Epub ahead of print].

Genomic assignment tests can provide important diagnostic biological characteristics, such as population of origin or ecotype. Yet, assignment tests often rely on moderate- to high-coverage sequence data that can be difficult to obtain for fields such as molecular ecology and ancient DNA. We have developed a novel approach that efficiently assigns biologically relevant information (i.e., population identity or structural variants such as inversions) in extremely low-coverage sequence data. First, we generate databases from existing reference data using a subset of diagnostic single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with a biological characteristic. Low-coverage alignment files are subsequently compared to these databases to ascertain allelic state, yielding a joint probability for each association. To assess the efficacy of this approach, we assigned haplotypes and population identity in Heliconius butterflies, Atlantic herring, and Atlantic cod using chromosomal inversion sites and whole-genome data. We scored both modern and ancient specimens, including the first whole-genome sequence data recovered from ancient Atlantic herring bones. The method accurately assigns biological characteristics, including population membership, using extremely low-coverage data (as low as 0.0001x) based on genome-wide SNPs. This approach will therefore increase the number of samples in evolutionary, ecological and archaeological research for which relevant biological information can be obtained.

RevDate: 2021-12-20
CmpDate: 2021-12-20

Yurtman E, Özer O, Yüncü E, et al (2021)

Archaeogenetic analysis of Neolithic sheep from Anatolia suggests a complex demographic history since domestication.

Communications biology, 4(1):1279.

Sheep were among the first domesticated animals, but their demographic history is little understood. Here we analyzed nuclear polymorphism and mitochondrial data (mtDNA) from ancient central and west Anatolian sheep dating from Epipaleolithic to late Neolithic, comparatively with modern-day breeds and central Asian Neolithic/Bronze Age sheep (OBI). Analyzing ancient nuclear data, we found that Anatolian Neolithic sheep (ANS) are genetically closest to present-day European breeds relative to Asian breeds, a conclusion supported by mtDNA haplogroup frequencies. In contrast, OBI showed higher genetic affinity to present-day Asian breeds. These results suggest that the east-west genetic structure observed in present-day breeds had already emerged by 6000 BCE, hinting at multiple sheep domestication episodes or early wild introgression in southwest Asia. Furthermore, we found that ANS are genetically distinct from all modern breeds. Our results suggest that European and Anatolian domestic sheep gene pools have been strongly remolded since the Neolithic.

RevDate: 2021-11-13

Piro M (2021)

Aspects of Molecular Genetics in Dromedary Camel.

Frontiers in genetics, 12:723181.

Dromedary camels are unique in their morphological and physiological characteristics and are capable of providing milk and meat even under extreme environmental conditions. Like other species, the dromedary camel has also benefitted from the development of the molecular genetics to increase the knowledge about different aspect in camel genetics (genetic variation, molecular marker, parentage control, gene of interest, whole genome, dating…etc.). In this paper we review the different molecular genetic technics used in this particular species and future prospects. Dromedary genetic studies started in the end of the 1980s with phenotypic evaluation and the attempts to highlight the protein and biochemical diversity. In the 2000s, with the development of molecular markers such as microsatellites, genetic diversity of different types in several countries were estimated and microsatellites were also used for parentage control. In terms of genetic characterization, microsatellites revealed a defined global structure, differentiating East African and South Arabian dromedaries from North African, North Arabian, and South Asian individuals, respectively. Also, mitochondrialDNA sequence analysis of ancient DNA proved to be crucial in resolving domestication processes in dromedaries. Ancient and modern DNA revealed dynamics of domestication and cross-continental dispersion of the dromedary. Nuclear SNPs, single nucleotide polymorphisms changes that occur approximately each 1000 bps in the mammalian genome were also applied in some studies in dromedary. These markers are a very useful alternative to microsatellites and have been employed in some studies on genetic diversity and relevant phenotypic traits in livestock. Finally, thanks to the use of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) the whole-genome assemblies of the dromedary (Camelus dromedarius) and a work to establish the organization of the dromedary genome at chromosome level were recently published.

RevDate: 2021-11-17

Morin J, Royle TCA, Zhang H, et al (2021)

Indigenous sex-selective salmon harvesting demonstrates pre-contact marine resource management in Burrard Inlet, British Columbia, Canada.

Scientific reports, 11(1):21160.

To gain insight into pre-contact Coast Salish fishing practices, we used new palaeogenetic analytical techniques to assign sex identifications to salmonid bones from four archaeological sites in Burrard Inlet (Tsleil-Waut), British Columbia, Canada, dating between about 2300-1000 BP (ca. 400 BCE-CE 1200). Our results indicate that male chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) were preferentially targeted at two of the four sampled archaeological sites. Because a single male salmon can mate with several females, selectively harvesting male salmon can increase a fishery's maximum sustainable harvest. We suggest such selective harvesting of visually distinctive male spawning chum salmon was a common practice, most effectively undertaken at wooden weirs spanning small salmon rivers and streams. We argue that this selective harvesting of males is indicative of an ancient and probably geographically widespread practice for ensuring sustainable salmon populations. The archaeological data presented here confirms earlier ethnographic accounts describing the selective harvest of male salmon.

RevDate: 2021-11-24

Salis AT, Bray SCE, Lee MSY, et al (2021)

Lions and brown bears colonized North America in multiple synchronous waves of dispersal across the Bering Land Bridge.

Molecular ecology [Epub ahead of print].

The Bering Land Bridge connecting North America and Eurasia was periodically exposed and inundated by oscillating sea levels during the Pleistocene glacial cycles. This land connection allowed the intermittent dispersal of animals, including humans, between Western Beringia (far northeast Asia) and Eastern Beringia (northwest North America), changing the faunal community composition of both continents. The Pleistocene glacial cycles also had profound impacts on temperature, precipitation and vegetation, impacting faunal community structure and demography. While these palaeoenvironmental impacts have been studied in many large herbivores from Beringia (e.g., bison, mammoths, horses), the Pleistocene population dynamics of the diverse guild of carnivorans present in the region are less well understood, due to their lower abundances. In this study, we analyse mitochondrial genome data from ancient brown bears (Ursus arctos; n = 103) and lions (Panthera spp.; n = 39), two megafaunal carnivorans that dispersed into North America during the Pleistocene. Our results reveal striking synchronicity in the population dynamics of Beringian lions and brown bears, with multiple waves of dispersal across the Bering Land Bridge coinciding with glacial periods of low sea levels, as well as synchronous local extinctions in Eastern Beringia during Marine Isotope Stage 3. The evolutionary histories of these two taxa underline the crucial biogeographical role of the Bering Land Bridge in the distribution, turnover and maintenance of megafaunal populations in North America.

RevDate: 2021-11-10

Urban C, Blom AA, Pfrengle S, et al (2021)

One Health Approaches to Trace Mycobacterium leprae's Zoonotic Potential Through Time.

Frontiers in microbiology, 12:762263.

Hansen's disease (leprosy), mainly caused by infection with Mycobacterium leprae, has accompanied humanity for thousands of years. Although currently rare in Europe, there are over 200,000 new infections annually in South East Asia, Africa, and South America. Over the years many disciplines - palaeopathology, ancient DNA and other ancient biomolecules, and history - have contributed to a better understanding of leprosy's past, in particular its history in medieval Europe. We discuss their contributions and potential, especially in relation to the role of inter-species transmission, an unexplored phenomenon in the disease's history. Here, we explore the potential of interdisciplinary approaches that understand disease as a biosocial phenomenon, which is a product of both infection with M. leprae and social behaviours that facilitate transmission and spread. Genetic evidence of M. leprae isolated from archaeological remains combined with systematic zooarchaeological and historical analysis would not only identify when and in what direction transmission occurred, but also key social behaviours and motivations that brought species together. In our opinion, this combination is crucial to understand the disease's zoonotic past and current potential.

RevDate: 2021-11-09
CmpDate: 2021-11-09

Zilberman U, Abramov J, P Smith (2021)

Supernumerary roots in maxillary deciduous canines: A rare anomaly with a long history.

Archives of oral biology, 132:105292.

OBJECTIVE: To describe two maxillary deciduous bi-rooted canines, one archeological and one modern, and examine the possible etiology of this condition.

DESIGN: Two cases of bi-rooted canines were described and compared to published examples. Both specimens were radiographed and measured and compared to one-rooted samples. The archeological specimen was scanned using CBCT to facilitate detailed examination of the deciduous teeth. The extracted modern tooth was embedded in epoxy resin and two coronal sections were cut, one through the crown and one through the roots and examined with a light microscope.

RESULTS: The bi-rooted canines were larger than the control samples. They showed none of the features commonly associated with gemination. The radiographs and scans showed that the canine roots in the archeological case diverged mesio-distally like the buccal roots in the adjacent first deciduous molar. In the clinical case, the root trunk was elongated mesio-distally and the furcation was located very close to the apex with a C-shaped root canal.

CONCLUSIONS: Both variants of the condition described above are rare in deciduous canines. They do not seem to be associated with fusion or gemination. However, as the teeth are relatively flattened bucco-lingually and we tentatively propose that this form results from spatial constraints during the early stages of crown development that have contributed to the development of additional roots. The megadont dimension of the recent bi-rooted deciduous canine may affect root development and the necessity of two mesio-distally located roots for anchorage in the maxilla.

RevDate: 2021-12-14
CmpDate: 2021-12-13

Fordham DA, Brown SC, Akçakaya HR, et al (2022)

Process-explicit models reveal pathway to extinction for woolly mammoth using pattern-oriented validation.

Ecology letters, 25(1):125-137.

Pathways to extinction start long before the death of the last individual. However, causes of early stage population declines and the susceptibility of small residual populations to extirpation are typically studied in isolation. Using validated process-explicit models, we disentangle the ecological mechanisms and threats that were integral in the initial decline and later extinction of the woolly mammoth. We show that reconciling ancient DNA data on woolly mammoth population decline with fossil evidence of location and timing of extinction requires process-explicit models with specific demographic and niche constraints, and a constrained synergy of climatic change and human impacts. Validated models needed humans to hasten climate-driven population declines by many millennia, and to allow woolly mammoths to persist in mainland Arctic refugia until the mid-Holocene. Our results show that the role of humans in the extinction dynamics of woolly mammoth began well before the Holocene, exerting lasting effects on the spatial pattern and timing of its range-wide extinction.

RevDate: 2021-12-07

Emery MV, Bolhofner K, Ghafoor S, et al (2022)

Whole mitochondrial genomes assembled from thermally altered forensic bones and teeth.

Forensic science international. Genetics, 56:102610.

The recovery and analysis of genetic material obtained from thermally altered human bones and teeth are increasingly important to forensic investigations, especially in cases where soft-tissue identification is no longer possible. Although little is known about how these fire-related processes affect DNA degradation over time, next-generation sequencing technology in combination with traditional osteobiographical applications may provide us clues to these questions. In this study, we compare whole mitochondrial genome data generated using two different DNA extraction methods from 27 thermally altered samples obtained from fire victims (Maricopa County, Arizona) . DNA extracts were converted to double-stranded DNA libraries and enriched for whole mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) using synthetic biotinylated RNA baits, then sequenced on an Illumina MiSeq. We processed the mitochondrial data using an in-house computational pipeline (MitoPipe1.0) composed of ancient DNA and modern genomics applications, then compared the resulting information across the two extraction types and five burn categories. Our analysis shows that DNA fragmentation increases with temperature, but that the acute insult from fire combined with the lack of water is insufficient to produce 5' and 3' terminal deamination characteristic of ancient DNA. Our data also suggest an acute and significant point of DNA degradation between 350 °C and 550 °C, and that the likelihood of generating high quality mtDNA haplogroup calls decreases significantly at temperatures > 550 °C. This research is part of a concerted effort to understand how fire affects our ability to generate genetic profiles suitable for forensic identification purposes.

RevDate: 2021-11-03

Oh CS, Hong JH, Chai JY, et al (2021)

Ancient DNA of Metagonimus yokogawai Recovered from Joseon Period Human Remains Newly Discovered at Goryeong County in South Korea.

Acta parasitologica [Epub ahead of print].

PURPOSE: Metagonimiasis, commonly seen in East Asian countries, is a parasitic disorder caused by definitive hosts' ingestion of undercooked freshwater fishes. Recently, genetic analysis has proved 28S rRNA and cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) mtDNA gene to be a successful marker differentiating species of the genus Metagonimus. In the present study, using specimens from the newly discovered Joseon Dynasty human remains of Goryeong, we obtained updated genetic data on genus Metagonimus, which was also prevalent during the Joseon period.

METHODS: The ancient DNA (aDNA) was retrieved from the coprolite sample of the seventeenth century, half-mummified individual discovered at Goryeong Country, South Korea. Cloning and sequencing were performed on PCR-amplified amplicons for M. yokogawai 28S rRNA and COI mtDNA gene. The consensus sequences were used for species identification and phylogenetic analysis using NCBI/BLAST and MEGA X software.

RESULTS: Based on the COI mtDNA gene region, the Goryeong sequence was confirmed as belonging to M. yokogawai, as it was shown to form a separate cluster with other M. yokogawai taxa that are distinct also from M. takahashii and M. miyatai.

CONCLUSION: In a series of our genetic analyses on genus Metagonimus using samples retrieved from Joseon-period cases, aDNA sequences of genus Metagonimus revealed in South Korea thus far are those of M. yokogawai, but not of M. miyatai or M. takahashii yet.

RevDate: 2021-11-02

Wang L, Sheng G, Preick M, et al (2021)

Ancient Mitogenomes Provide New Insights into the Origin and Early Introduction of Chinese Domestic Donkeys.

Frontiers in genetics, 12:759831.

Both molecular data and archaeological evidence strongly support an African origin for the domestic donkey. Recent genetic studies further suggest that there were two distinct maternal lineages involved in its initial domestication. However, the exact introduction time and the dispersal process of domestic donkeys into ancient China are still unresolved. To address these questions, we retrieved three near-complete mitochondrial genomes from donkey specimens excavated from Gaoling County, Shaanxi Province, and Linxia Basin, Gansu Province, China, dated at 2,349-2,301, 469-311, and 2,160-2,004 cal. BP, respectively. Maximum-likelihood and Bayesian phylogenetic analyses reveal that the two older samples fall into the two different main lineages (i.e., clade Ⅰ and clade Ⅱ) of the domestic donkey, suggesting that the two donkey maternal lineages had been introduced into Midwestern China at least at the opening of Silk Road (approximately the first century BC). Bayesian analysis shows that the split of the two donkey maternal lineages is dated at 0.323 Ma (95% CI: 0.583-0.191 Ma) using root-tip dating calibrations based on near-complete mitogenomes, supporting the hypothesis that modern domestic donkeys go back to at least two independent domestication events. Moreover, Bayesian skyline plot analyses indicate an apparent female population increase between 5,000 and 2,500 years ago for clade I followed by a stable population size to the present day. In contrast, clade II keeps a relatively stable population size over the past 5,000 years. Overall, our study provides new insights into the early domestication history of Chinese domestic donkeys.

RevDate: 2021-10-30

Sinding MS, Ciucani MM, Ramos-Madrigal J, et al (2021)

Kouprey (Bos sauveli) genomes unveil polytomic origin of wild Asian Bos.

iScience, 24(11):103226.

The evolution of the genera Bos and Bison, and the nature of gene flow between wild and domestic species, is poorly understood, with genomic data of wild species being limited. We generated two genomes from the likely extinct kouprey (Bos sauveli) and analyzed them alongside other Bos and Bison genomes. We found that B. sauveli possessed genomic signatures characteristic of an independent species closely related to Bos javanicus and Bos gaurus. We found evidence for extensive incomplete lineage sorting across the three species, consistent with a polytomic diversification of the major ancestry in the group, potentially followed by secondary gene flow. Finally, we detected significant gene flow from an unsampled Asian Bos-like source into East Asian zebu cattle, demonstrating both that the full genomic diversity and evolutionary history of the Bos complex has yet to be elucidated and that museum specimens and ancient DNA are valuable resources to do so.

RevDate: 2021-11-02

Fernandes DM, Cheronet O, Gelabert P, et al (2021)

TKGWV2: an ancient DNA relatedness pipeline for ultra-low coverage whole genome shotgun data.

Scientific reports, 11(1):21262.

Estimation of genetically related individuals is playing an increasingly important role in the ancient DNA field. In recent years, the numbers of sequenced individuals from single sites have been increasing, reflecting a growing interest in understanding the familial and social organisation of ancient populations. Although a few different methods have been specifically developed for ancient DNA, namely to tackle issues such as low-coverage homozygous data, they require a 0.1-1× minimum average genomic coverage per analysed pair of individuals. Here we present an updated version of a method that enables estimates of 1st and 2nd-degrees of relatedness with as little as 0.026× average coverage, or around 18,000 SNPs from 1.3 million aligned reads per sample with average length of 62 bp-four times less data than 0.1× coverage at similar read lengths. By using simulated data to estimate false positive error rates, we further show that a threshold even as low as 0.012×, or around 4000 SNPs from 600,000 reads, will always show 1st-degree relationships as related. Lastly, by applying this method to published data, we are able to identify previously undocumented relationships using individuals that had been excluded from prior kinship analysis due to their very low coverage. This methodological improvement has the potential to enable relatedness estimation on ancient whole genome shotgun data during routine low-coverage screening, and therefore improve project management when decisions need to be made on which individuals are to be further sequenced.

RevDate: 2021-10-30

Iadarola B, Lavezzari D, Modi A, et al (2021)

Whole-exome sequencing of the mummified remains of Cangrande della Scala (1291-1329 CE) indicates the first known case of late-onset Pompe disease.

Scientific reports, 11(1):21070.

Mummified remains of relevant historical figures are nowadays an important source of information to retrace data concerning their private life and health, especially when historical archives are not available. Next-generation-sequencing was proved to be a valuable tool to unravel the characteristics of these individuals through their genetic heritage. Using the strictest criteria currently available for the validation of ancient DNA sequences, whole-genome and whole-exome sequencing were generated from the mummy remains of an Italian nobleman died almost 700 years ago, Cangrande della Scala. While its genome sequencing could not yield sufficient coverage for in depth investigation, exome sequencing could overcome the limitations of this approach to achieve significantly high coverage on coding regions, thus allowing to perform the first extensive exome analysis of a mummy genome. Similar to a standard "clinical exome analysis" conducted on modern DNA, an in-depth variant annotation, high-quality filtering and interpretation was performed, leading to the identification of a genotype associated with late-onset Pompe disease (glycogen storage disease type II). This genetic diagnosis was concordant with the limited clinical history available for Cangrande della Scala, who likely represents the earliest known case of this autosomal recessive metabolic disorder.

RevDate: 2021-10-26

Passamonti MM, Somenzi E, Barbato M, et al (2021)

The Quest for Genes Involved in Adaptation to Climate Change in Ruminant Livestock.

Animals : an open access journal from MDPI, 11(10):.

Livestock radiated out from domestication centres to most regions of the world, gradually adapting to diverse environments, from very hot to sub-zero temperatures and from wet and humid conditions to deserts. The climate is changing; generally global temperature is increasing, although there are also more extreme cold periods, storms, and higher solar radiation. These changes impact livestock welfare and productivity. This review describes advances in the methodology for studying livestock genomes and the impact of the environment on animal production, giving examples of discoveries made. Sequencing livestock genomes has facilitated genome-wide association studies to localize genes controlling many traits, and population genetics has identified genomic regions under selection or introgressed from one breed into another to improve production or facilitate adaptation. Landscape genomics, which combines global positioning and genomics, has identified genomic features that enable animals to adapt to local environments. Combining the advances in genomics and methods for predicting changes in climate is generating an explosion of data which calls for innovations in the way big data sets are treated. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are now being used to study the interactions between the genome and the environment to identify historic effects on the genome and to model future scenarios.

RevDate: 2021-11-30

Bonsu DOM, Rodie M, Higgins D, et al (2021)

Comparison of Isohelix™ and Rayon swabbing systems for touch DNA recovery from metal surfaces.

Forensic science, medicine, and pathology, 17(4):577-584.

A previous study evaluating two swabbing systems found that DNA was best recovered from sterile metal substrates using an Isohelix™ swab wetted with isopropyl alcohol rather than a Rayon swab with water as the wetting agent. We tested the same swabbing systems on metal (aluminum, brass, and stainless steel) and plastic substrates in a regularly touched environment to simulate the non-deliberate transfer of touch evidence likely seen in a casework scenario, to ascertain the performance of these swabs in an uncontrolled situation. Higher amounts of touch DNA were recovered with Isohelix™ swabs (0.5 - 3.3 ng) compared to Rayon swabs (0.13 - 1.2 ng). The Isohelix™ swabbing system was found to significantly recover more touch DNA (p = 0.04) from the metal substrates than the Rayon swabbing system, consistent with the findings of our previous work. The results contribute to our understanding of the impact of sample collection techniques on touch DNA recovery from problematic metal surfaces and suggest that supplemental cleaning of substrates as a precautionary step against the spread of infections may affect touch DNA persistence and the recovery efficiency of swabs.

RevDate: 2021-10-29
CmpDate: 2021-10-29

Gibbons A (2021)

Ancient DNA reveals long-sought homeland of modern horses.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 374(6566):384-385.

[Figure: see text].

RevDate: 2021-10-21

O'Grady CJ, Dhandapani V, Colbourne JK, et al (2021)

Refining the evolutionary time machine: An assessment of whole genome amplification using single historical Daphnia eggs.

Molecular ecology resources [Epub ahead of print].

Whole genome sequencing is instrumental for the study of genome variation in natural populations, delivering important knowledge on genomic modifications and potential targets of natural selection at the population level. Large dormant eggbanks of aquatic invertebrates such as the keystone herbivore Daphnia, a microcrustacean widespread in freshwater ecosystems, provide detailed sedimentary archives to study genomic processes over centuries. To overcome the problem of limited DNA amounts in single Daphnia dormant eggs, we developed an optimized workflow for whole genome amplification (WGA), yielding sufficient amounts of DNA for downstream whole genome sequencing of individual historical eggs, including polyploid lineages. We compare two WGA kits, applied to recently produced Daphnia magna dormant eggs from laboratory cultures, and to historical dormant eggs of Daphnia pulicaria collected from Arctic lake sediment between 10 and 300 years old. Resulting genome coverage breadth in most samples was ~70%, including those from >100-year-old isolates. Sequence read distribution was highly correlated among samples amplified with the same kit, but less correlated between kits. Despite this, a high percentage of genomic positions with single nucleotide polymorphisms in one or more samples (maximum of 74% between kits, and 97% within kits) were recovered at a depth required for genotyping. As a by-product of sequencing we obtained 100% coverage of the mitochondrial genomes even from the oldest isolates (~300 years). The mitochondrial DNA provides an additional source for evolutionary studies of these populations. We provide an optimized workflow for WGA followed by whole genome sequencing including steps to minimize exogenous DNA.

RevDate: 2021-10-22

Zhu K, Du P, Xiong J, et al (2021)

Comparative Performance of the MGISEQ-2000 and Illumina X-Ten Sequencing Platforms for Paleogenomics.

Frontiers in genetics, 12:745508.

The MGISEQ-2000 sequencer is widely used in various omics studies, but the performance of this platform for paleogenomics has not been evaluated. We here compare the performance of MGISEQ-2000 with the Illumina X-Ten on ancient human DNA using four samples from 1750BCE to 60CE. We found there were only slight differences between the two platforms in most parameters (duplication rate, sequencing bias, θ, δS, and λ). MGISEQ-2000 performed well on endogenous rate and library complexity although X-Ten had a higher average base quality and lower error rate. Our results suggest that MGISEQ-2000 and X-Ten have comparable performance, and MGISEQ-2000 can be an alternative platform for paleogenomics sequencing.

RevDate: 2022-01-04

Alpaslan-Roodenberg S, Anthony D, Babiker H, et al (2021)

Ethics of DNA research on human remains: five globally applicable guidelines.

Nature, 599(7883):41-46.

We are a group of archaeologists, anthropologists, curators and geneticists representing diverse global communities and 31 countries. All of us met in a virtual workshop dedicated to ethics in ancient DNA research held in November 2020. There was widespread agreement that globally applicable ethical guidelines are needed, but that recent recommendations grounded in discussion about research on human remains from North America are not always generalizable worldwide. Here we propose the following globally applicable guidelines, taking into consideration diverse contexts. These hold that: (1) researchers must ensure that all regulations were followed in the places where they work and from which the human remains derived; (2) researchers must prepare a detailed plan prior to beginning any study; (3) researchers must minimize damage to human remains; (4) researchers must ensure that data are made available following publication to allow critical re-examination of scientific findings; and (5) researchers must engage with other stakeholders from the beginning of a study and ensure respect and sensitivity to stakeholder perspectives. We commit to adhering to these guidelines and expect they will promote a high ethical standard in DNA research on human remains going forward.

RevDate: 2021-10-26

Andrews AJ, Puncher GN, Bernal-Casasola D, et al (2021)

Ancient DNA SNP-panel data suggests stability in bluefin tuna genetic diversity despite centuries of fluctuating catches in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean.

Scientific reports, 11(1):20744.

Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus; BFT) abundance was depleted in the late 20th and early 21st century due to overfishing. Historical catch records further indicate that the abundance of BFT in the Mediterranean has been fluctuating since at least the 16th century. Here we build upon previous work on ancient DNA of BFT in the Mediterranean by comparing contemporary (2009-2012) specimens with archival (1911-1926) and archaeological (2nd century BCE-15th century CE) specimens that represent population states prior to these two major periods of exploitation, respectively. We successfully genotyped and analysed 259 contemporary and 123 historical (91 archival and 32 archaeological) specimens at 92 SNP loci that were selected for their ability to differentiate contemporary populations or their association with core biological functions. We found no evidence of genetic bottlenecks, inbreeding or population restructuring between temporal sample groups that might explain what has driven catch fluctuations since the 16th century. We also detected a putative adaptive response, involving the cytoskeletal protein synemin which may be related to muscle stress. However, these results require further investigation with more extensive genome-wide data to rule out demographic changes due to overfishing, and other natural and anthropogenic factors, in addition to elucidating the adaptive drivers related to these.

RevDate: 2021-10-25
CmpDate: 2021-10-25

Calvignac-Spencer S, Düx A, Gogarten JF, et al (2021)

Molecular archeology of human viruses.

Advances in virus research, 111:31-61.

The evolution of human-virus associations is usually reconstructed from contemporary patterns of genomic diversity. An intriguing, though still rarely implemented, alternative is to search for the genetic material of viruses in archeological and medical archive specimens to document evolution as it happened. In this chapter, we present lessons from ancient DNA research and incorporate insights from virology to explore the potential range of applications and likely limitations of archeovirological approaches. We also highlight the numerous questions archeovirology will hopefully allow us to tackle in the near future, and the main expected roadblocks to these avenues of research.

RevDate: 2021-10-22

Bini C, Cilli E, Sarno S, et al (2021)

Twenty-Seven Y-Chromosome Short Tandem Repeats Analysis of Italian Mummies of the 16th and 18th Centuries: An Interdisciplinary Research.

Frontiers in genetics, 12:720640.

Roccapelago (MO) is a small village located in the Northern Central Apennines, with a population of 31 inhabitants (2014). In 2010, more than 400 individuals dated between the end of the 16th and the 18th century, many of which partially mummified, were discovered in the crypt of the church. This small village, because of its geographical location and surrounding environment, seems to possess the characteristics of a genetic isolate, useful for population genetics and genealogical analyses. Thus, a diachronic study of DNA aimed at investigating the structure and dynamics of the population of Roccapelago over the about 4 centuries, was conducted by analyzing ancient and modern inhabitants of the village. The 14 modern samples were selected by considering both the founder surnames of the village, identified thanks to the study of parish registers, and the grandparent's criterion. From 25 ancient mummies, morphologically assigned to male individuals, the petrous bone, that harbors high DNA amounts, was selected for the DNA extraction. The quantification and qualitative assessment of total human male DNA were evaluated by a real-time PCR assay using the Quantifiler Trio DNA Quantification Kit and multiplex PCR of 27 Y-chromosome short tandem repeat (Y-STR) markers included in the Yfiler Plus PCR Amplification Kit, with seven rapidly mutating Y-STR loci for improving discrimination of male lineages, was performed to genotype the samples. Y-STRs were analyzed according to the criteria of ancient DNA (aDNA) analysis to ensure that authentic DNA typing results were obtained from these ancient samples. The molecular analysis showed the usefulness of the Y chromosome to identify historically relevant remains and discover patterns of relatedness in communities moving from anthropology to genetic genealogy and forensics.

RevDate: 2021-12-07

Wurst C, Maixner F, Castella V, et al (2022)

The Lady from Basel's Barfüsserkirche - Molecular confirmation of the Mummy's identity through mitochondrial DNA of living relatives spanning 22 generations.

Forensic science international. Genetics, 56:102604.

The identity of the mummified Lady from the Barfüsser Church in Basel, Switzerland has been unsolved for decades, despite the prominent location of the burial place in front of the choir screen. A recent multidisciplinary research approach came up with a possible candidate, Anna Catharina Bischoff who died in Basel in 1787 with an age of 69 years (1719-1787). To verify the identity of the mummy, genealogists of the Citizen Science Basel discovered three living individuals of the maternal lineage of two different family branches, separated from Anna Catharina Bischoff by up to 22 generations. In this study we compare the ancient mitochondrial DNA of the mummy recovered from a premolar to the mitochondrial DNA of these three candidates. Initially the mitochondrial hypervariable regions I and II of the living individuals were screened using the Sanger sequencing method. This was followed by a mitochondrial capture approach and next generation sequencing to enrich for the whole mitochondrial genome of the mummy and one living person. A full mitochondrial genome has been recovered of both individuals sharing an identical haplotype. The sequence was assigned to the mitochondrial haplogroup U5a1+!16192 including two private mutations 10006G and 16293C. Only by using an interdisciplinary approach combining ancient DNA analysis and genealogy a maternal lineage of a non-noble family spanning 22 generations could be confirmed.

RevDate: 2021-12-22

Ciucani MM, Jensen JK, Sinding MS, et al (2021)

Evolutionary history of the extinct Sardinian dhole.

Current biology : CB, 31(24):5571-5579.e6.

The Sardinian dhole (Cynotherium sardous)1 was an iconic and unique canid species that was endemic to Sardinia and Corsica until it became extinct at the end of the Late Pleistocene.2-5 Given its peculiar dental morphology, small body size, and high level of endemism, several extant canids have been proposed as possible relatives of the Sardinian dhole, including the Asian dhole and African hunting dog ancestor.3,6-9 Morphometric analyses3,6,8-12 have failed to clarify the evolutionary relationship with other canids.We sequenced the genome of a ca-21,100-year-old Sardinian dhole in order to understand its genomic history and clarify its phylogenetic position. We found that it represents a separate taxon from all other living canids from Eurasia, Africa, and North America, and that the Sardinian dhole lineage diverged from the Asian dhole ca 885 ka. We additionally detected historical gene flow between the Sardinian and Asian dhole lineages, which ended approximately 500-300 ka, when the land bridge between Sardinia and mainland Italy was already broken, severing their population connectivity. Our sample showed low genome-wide diversity compared to other extant canids-probably a result of the long-term isolation-that could have contributed to the subsequent extinction of the Sardinian dhole.

RevDate: 2021-12-21
CmpDate: 2021-10-26

Boubli JP, Janiak MC, Porter LM, et al (2021)

Ancient DNA of the pygmy marmoset type specimen Cebuella pygmaea (Spix, 1823) resolves a taxonomic conundrum.

Zoological research, 42(6):761-771.

The pygmy marmoset, the smallest of the anthropoid primates, has a broad distribution in Western Amazonia. Recent studies using molecular and morphological data have identified two distinct species separated by the Napo and Solimões-Amazonas rivers. However, reconciling this new biological evidence with current taxonomy, i.e., two subspecies, Cebuella pygmaea pygmaea (Spix, 1823) and Cebuella pygmaea niveiventris (Lönnberg, 1940), was problematic given the uncertainty as to whether Spix's pygmy marmoset (Cebuella pygmaea pygmaea) was collected north or south of the Napo and Solimões-Amazonas rivers, making it unclear to which of the two newly revealed species the name pygmaea would apply. Here, we present the first molecular data from Spix's type specimen of Cebuella pygmaea, as well as novel mitochondrial genomes from modern pygmy marmosets sampled near the type locality (Tabatinga) on both sides of the river. With these data, we can confirm the correct names of the two species identified, i.e., C. pygmaea for animals north of the Napo and Solimões-Amazonas rivers and C. niveiventris for animals south of these two rivers. Phylogenetic analyses of the novel genetic data placed into the context of cytochrome b gene sequences from across the range of pygmy marmosets further led us to re-evaluate the geographical distribution for the two Cebuella species. We dated the split of these two species to 2.54 million years ago. We discuss additional, more recent, subdivisions within each lineage, as well as potential contact zones between the two species in the headwaters of these rivers.

RevDate: 2021-10-12

Ning C, Zheng HX, Zhang F, et al (2021)

Ancient Mitochondrial Genomes Reveal Extensive Genetic Influence of the Steppe Pastoralists in Western Xinjiang.

Frontiers in genetics, 12:740167.

The population prehistory of Xinjiang has been a hot topic among geneticists, linguists, and archaeologists. Current ancient DNA studies in Xinjiang exclusively suggest an admixture model for the populations in Xinjiang since the early Bronze Age. However, almost all of these studies focused on the northern and eastern parts of Xinjiang; the prehistoric demographic processes that occurred in western Xinjiang have been seldomly reported. By analyzing complete mitochondrial sequences from the Xiabandi (XBD) cemetery (3,500-3,300 BP), the up-to-date earliest cemetery excavated in western Xinjiang, we show that all the XBD mitochondrial sequences fall within two different West Eurasian mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) pools, indicating that the migrants into western Xinjiang from west Eurasians were a consequence of the early expansion of the middle and late Bronze Age steppe pastoralists (Steppe_MLBA), admixed with the indigenous populations from Central Asia. Our study provides genetic links for an early existence of the Indo-Iranian language in southwestern Xinjiang and suggests that the existence of Andronovo culture in western Xinjiang involved not only the dispersal of ideas but also population movement.

RevDate: 2021-12-23
CmpDate: 2021-12-23

Rio J, Quilodrán CS, M Currat (2021)

Spatially explicit paleogenomic simulations support cohabitation with limited admixture between Bronze Age Central European populations.

Communications biology, 4(1):1163.

The Bronze Age is a complex period of social, cultural and economic changes. Recent paleogenomic studies have documented a large and rapid genetic change in early Bronze Age populations from Central Europe. However, the detailed demographic and genetic processes involved in this change are still debated. Here we have used spatially explicit simulations of genomic components to better characterize the demographic and migratory conditions that may have led to this change. We investigated various scenarios representing the expansion of pastoralists from the Pontic steppe, potentially linked to the Yamnaya cultural complex, and their interactions with local populations in Central Europe, considering various eco-evolutionary factors, such as population admixture, competition and long-distance dispersal. Our results do not support direct competition but rather the cohabitation of pastoralists and farmers in Central Europe, with limited gene flow between populations. They also suggest occasional long-distance migrations accompanying the expansion of pastoralists and a demographic decline in both populations following their initial contact. These results link recent archaeological and paleogenomic observations and move further the debate of genomic changes during the early Bronze Age.

RevDate: 2021-12-04
CmpDate: 2021-10-15

Kocher A, Papac L, Barquera R, et al (2021)

Ten millennia of hepatitis B virus evolution.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 374(6564):182-188.

[Figure: see text].

RevDate: 2021-10-21
CmpDate: 2021-10-19

Shiba T, Komatsu K, Sudo T, et al (2021)

Comparison of Periodontal Bacteria of Edo and Modern Periods Using Novel Diagnostic Approach for Periodontitis With Micro-CT.

Frontiers in cellular and infection microbiology, 11:723821.

Ancient dental calculus, formed from dental plaque, is a rich source of ancient DNA and can provide information regarding the food and oral microbiology at that time. Genomic analysis of dental calculus from Neanderthals has revealed the difference in bacterial composition of oral microbiome between Neanderthals and modern humans. There are few reports investigating whether the pathogenic bacteria of periodontitis, a polymicrobial disease induced in response to the accumulation of dental plaque, were different between ancient and modern humans. This study aimed to compare the bacterial composition of the oral microbiome in ancient and modern human samples and to investigate whether lifestyle differences depending on the era have altered the bacterial composition of the oral microbiome and the causative bacteria of periodontitis. Additionally, we introduce a novel diagnostic approach for periodontitis in ancient skeletons using micro-computed tomography. Ancient 16S rDNA sequences were obtained from 12 samples at the Unko-in site (18th-19th century) of the Edo era (1603-1867), a characteristic period in Japan when immigrants were not accepted. Furthermore, modern 16S rDNA data from 53 samples were obtained from a database to compare the modern and ancient microbiome. The microbial co-occurrence network was analyzed based on 16S rDNA read abundance. Eubacterium species, Mollicutes species, and Treponema socranskii were the core species in the Edo co-occurrence network. The co-occurrence relationship between Actinomyces oricola and Eggerthella lenta appeared to have played a key role in causing periodontitis in the Edo era. However, Porphyromonas gingivalis, Fusobacterium nucleatum subsp. vincentii, and Prevotella pleuritidis were the core and highly abundant species in the co-occurrence network of modern samples. These results suggest the possibility of differences in the pathogens causing periodontitis during different eras in history.

RevDate: 2021-10-11

Pfrengle S, Neukamm J, Guellil M, et al (2021)

Mycobacterium leprae diversity and population dynamics in medieval Europe from novel ancient genomes.

BMC biology, 19(1):220.

BACKGROUND: Hansen's disease (leprosy), widespread in medieval Europe, is today mainly prevalent in tropical and subtropical regions with around 200,000 new cases reported annually. Despite its long history and appearance in historical records, its origins and past dissemination patterns are still widely unknown. Applying ancient DNA approaches to its major causative agent, Mycobacterium leprae, can significantly improve our understanding of the disease's complex history. Previous studies have identified a high genetic continuity of the pathogen over the last 1500 years and the existence of at least four M. leprae lineages in some parts of Europe since the Early Medieval period.

RESULTS: Here, we reconstructed 19 ancient M. leprae genomes to further investigate M. leprae's genetic variation in Europe, with a dedicated focus on bacterial genomes from previously unstudied regions (Belarus, Iberia, Russia, Scotland), from multiple sites in a single region (Cambridgeshire, England), and from two Iberian leprosaria. Overall, our data confirm the existence of similar phylogeographic patterns across Europe, including high diversity in leprosaria. Further, we identified a new genotype in Belarus. By doubling the number of complete ancient M. leprae genomes, our results improve our knowledge of the past phylogeography of M. leprae and reveal a particularly high M. leprae diversity in European medieval leprosaria.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings allow us to detect similar patterns of strain diversity across Europe with branch 3 as the most common branch and the leprosaria as centers for high diversity. The higher resolution of our phylogeny tree also refined our understanding of the interspecies transfer between red squirrels and humans pointing to a late antique/early medieval transmission. Furthermore, with our new estimates on the past population diversity of M. leprae, we gained first insights into the disease's global history in relation to major historic events such as the Roman expansion or the beginning of the regular transatlantic long distance trade. In summary, our findings highlight how studying ancient M. leprae genomes worldwide improves our understanding of leprosy's global history and can contribute to current models of M. leprae's worldwide dissemination, including interspecies transmissions.

RevDate: 2022-01-03

Scheib CL (2021)

Ancient Health Landscape: foundations and perspectives.

Journal of anthropological sciences = Rivista di antropologia : JASS, 99:167-170 [Epub ahead of print].

RevDate: 2022-01-03

Hellenthal G (2021)

Methodological challenges and opportunities for inferring human demography.

Journal of anthropological sciences = Rivista di antropologia : JASS, 99:175-177 [Epub ahead of print].

RevDate: 2022-01-03

Bergström A (2021)

From domestication genomics towards molecular ecology of human environments.

Journal of anthropological sciences = Rivista di antropologia : JASS, 99:163-166 [Epub ahead of print].

RevDate: 2021-10-22
CmpDate: 2021-10-22

Granehäll L, Huang KD, Tett A, et al (2021)

Metagenomic analysis of ancient dental calculus reveals unexplored diversity of oral archaeal Methanobrevibacter.

Microbiome, 9(1):197.

BACKGROUND: Dental calculus (mineralised dental plaque) preserves many types of microfossils and biomolecules, including microbial and host DNA, and ancient calculus are thus an important source of information regarding our ancestral human oral microbiome. In this study, we taxonomically characterised the dental calculus microbiome from 20 ancient human skeletal remains originating from Trentino-South Tyrol, Italy, dating from the Neolithic (6000-3500 BCE) to the Early Middle Ages (400-1000 CE).

RESULTS: We found a high abundance of the archaeal genus Methanobrevibacter in the calculus. However, only a fraction of the sequences showed high similarity to Methanobrevibacter oralis, the only described Methanobrevibacter species in the human oral microbiome so far. To further investigate the diversity of this genus, we used de novo metagenome assembly to reconstruct 11 Methanobrevibacter genomes from the ancient calculus samples. Besides the presence of M. oralis in one of the samples, our phylogenetic analysis revealed two hitherto uncharacterised and unnamed oral Methanobrevibacter species that are prevalent in ancient calculus samples sampled from a broad range of geographical locations and time periods.

CONCLUSIONS: We have shown the potential of using de novo metagenomic assembly on ancient samples to explore microbial diversity and evolution. Our study suggests that there has been a possible shift in the human oral microbiome member Methanobrevibacter over the last millennia. Video abstract.

RevDate: 2021-12-28
CmpDate: 2021-12-28

Wang CC, Posth C, Furtwängler A, et al (2021)

Genome-wide autosomal, mtDNA, and Y chromosome analysis of King Bela III of the Hungarian Arpad dynasty.

Scientific reports, 11(1):19210.

The ancient Hungarians, "Madzsars", established their control of the Carpathian Basin in the late ninth century and founded the Hungarian Kingdom around 1000AD. The origin of the Magyars as a tribal federation has been much debated in the past. From the time of the conquest to the early fourteenth century they were ruled by descendants of the Arpad family. In order to learn more about the genetic origin of this family, we here analyzed the genome of Bela III one of the most prominent members of the early Hungarian dynasty that ruled the Hungarian Kingdom from 1172 to 1196. The Y-Chromosome of Bela III belongs to haplogroup R1a-Z2123 that is today found in highest frequency in Central Asia, supporting a Central Asian origin for the ruling lineage of the Hungarian kingdom. The autosomal DNA profile of Bela III, however, falls within the genetic variation of present-day east European populations. This is further supported through his mtDNA genome that belongs to haplogroup H, the most common European maternal lineage, but also found in Central Asia. However, we didn't find an exact haplotype match for Bela III. The typical autosomal and maternal Central Eastern European ancestry among Bela III autosomes might be best explained by consecutive intermarriage with local European ruling families.

RevDate: 2021-10-15

Suchan T, Kusliy MA, Khan N, et al (2021)

Performance and automation of ancient DNA capture with RNA hyRAD probes.

Molecular ecology resources [Epub ahead of print].

DNA hybridization-capture techniques allow researchers to focus their sequencing efforts on preselected genomic regions. This feature is especially useful when analysing ancient DNA (aDNA) extracts, which are often dominated by exogenous environmental sources. Here, we assessed, for the first time, the performance of hyRAD as an inexpensive and design-free alternative to commercial capture protocols to obtain authentic aDNA data from osseous remains. HyRAD relies on double enzymatic restriction of fresh DNA extracts to produce RNA probes that cover only a fraction of the genome and can serve as baits for capturing homologous fragments from aDNA libraries. We found that this approach could retrieve sequence data from horse remains coming from a range of preservation environments, including beyond radiocarbon range, yielding up to 146.5-fold on-target enrichment for aDNA extracts showing extremely low endogenous content (<1%). Performance was, however, more limited for those samples already characterized by good DNA preservation (>20%-30%), while the fraction of endogenous reads mapping on- and off-target was relatively insensitive to the original endogenous DNA content. Procedures based on two instead of a single round of capture increased on-target coverage up to 3.6-fold. Additionally, we used methylation-sensitive restriction enzymes to produce probes targeting hypomethylated regions, which improved data quality by reducing post-mortem DNA damage and mapping within multicopy regions. Finally, we developed a fully automated hyRAD protocol utilizing inexpensive robotic platforms to facilitate capture processing. Overall, our work establishes hyRAD as a cost-effective strategy to recover a set of shared orthologous variants across multiple ancient samples.

RevDate: 2021-10-01

Vai S, Lari M, D Caramelli (2021)

Ancient and Archaic Genomes.

Genes, 12(9):.

The first data obtained from ancient DNA samples were published more than thirty years ago [...].

RevDate: 2022-01-03

Rotival M, L Quintana-Murci (2021)

Towards a functional understanding of adaptive phenotypes in humans.

Journal of anthropological sciences = Rivista di antropologia : JASS, 99:171-174 [Epub ahead of print].

RevDate: 2021-11-24

Card DC, Shapiro B, Giribet G, et al (2021)

Museum Genomics.

Annual review of genetics, 55:633-659.

Natural history collections are invaluable repositories of biological information that provide an unrivaled record of Earth's biodiversity. Museum genomics-genomics research using traditional museum and cryogenic collections and the infrastructure supporting these investigations-has particularly enhanced research in ecology and evolutionary biology, the study of extinct organisms, and the impact of anthropogenic activity on biodiversity. However, leveraging genomics in biological collections has exposed challenges, such as digitizing, integrating, and sharing collections data; updating practices to ensure broadly optimal data extraction from existing and new collections; and modernizing collections practices, infrastructure, and policies to ensure fair, sustainable, and genomically manifold uses of museum collections by increasingly diverse stakeholders. Museum genomics collections are poised to address these challenges and, with increasingly sensitive genomics approaches, will catalyze a future era of reproducibility, innovation, and insight made possible through integrating museum and genome sciences.

RevDate: 2021-10-01
CmpDate: 2021-10-01

Liu Y, Mao X, Krause J, et al (2021)

Insights into human history from the first decade of ancient human genomics.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 373(6562):1479-1484.

[Figure: see text].

RevDate: 2021-11-26
CmpDate: 2021-11-26

Wu X, Ning C, Key FM, et al (2021)

A 3,000-year-old, basal S. enterica lineage from Bronze Age Xinjiang suggests spread along the Proto-Silk Road.

PLoS pathogens, 17(9):e1009886.

Salmonella enterica (S. enterica) has infected humans for a long time, but its evolutionary history and geographic spread across Eurasia is still poorly understood. Here, we screened for pathogen DNA in 14 ancient individuals from the Bronze Age Quanergou cemetery (XBQ), Xinjiang, China. In 6 individuals we detected S. enterica. We reconstructed S. enterica genomes from those individuals, which form a previously undetected phylogenetic branch basal to Paratyphi C, Typhisuis and Choleraesuis-the so-called Para C lineage. Based on pseudogene frequency, our analysis suggests that the ancient S. enterica strains were not host adapted. One genome, however, harbors the Salmonella pathogenicity island 7 (SPI-7), which is thought to be involved in (para)typhoid disease in humans. This offers first evidence that SPI-7 was acquired prior to the emergence of human-adapted Paratyphi C around 1,000 years ago. Altogether, our results show that Salmonella enterica infected humans in Eastern Eurasia at least 3,000 years ago, and provide the first ancient DNA evidence for the spread of a pathogen along the Proto-Silk Road.

RevDate: 2021-09-17

Tamburrini C, de Saint Pierre M, Bravi CM, et al (2021)

Uniparental origins of the admixed Argentine Patagonia.

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

OBJECTIVES: We aimed to contribute to the understanding of the ancient geographic origins of the uniparentally inherited markers in modern admixed Argentinian populations from central Patagonia with new information provided for the city of Trelew. We attempted to highlight the importance of combining different genetic markers when studying population history.

METHODS: The mtDNA control region sequence was typified in 89 individuals and 12 Y-STR and 15 Y-SNP loci were analyzed in 66 males. With these data, analysis of molecular variance and Network analyses were carried out. We exhaustively compared the modern data with ancient mtDNA information. Finally, we tested the differences in continental origins estimated by uniparental and previously published biparental markers.

RESULTS: Native American mtDNAs (53.9%) increased when maternal ancestors were born in the northern (81.8%) and southern (58.5%) regions of Argentina or in Chile (77.8%). Population substructure was only observed for Y-chromosome haplotypes. Some mtDNA haplogroups have been present in the area for at least ca. 2762-2430 and ca. 500 (D1g and D1g4 haplogroups) and ca. 6736 and ca. 6620 (C1b and C1c haplogroups) years, respectively. In contrast, haplogroups B2i2 and C1b13, frequent in modern Patagonia populations, had not been found in previous ancient DNA studies of the region.

CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that Native American ancestry is well preserved in the region. Trelew samples had characteristic native mtDNA haplogroups previously described in Chilean and Argentine Patagonian populations, but not observed in ancient samples until now. These findings support the idea that these lineages have a recent regional origin. Finally, the estimated proportions of continental ancestry depend on the genetic marker analyzed.

RevDate: 2021-09-17

de-Dios T, Carrión P, Olalde I, et al (2021)

Salmonella enterica from a soldier from the 1652 siege of Barcelona (Spain) supports historical transatlantic epidemic contacts.

iScience, 24(9):103021.

Ancient pathogen genomics is an emerging field allowing reconstruction of past epidemics. The demise of post-contact American populations may, at least in part, have been caused by paratyphoid fever brought by Europeans. We retrieved genome-wide data from two Spanish soldiers who were besieging the city of Barcelona in 1652, during the Reapers' War. Their ancestry derived from the Basque region and Sardinia, respectively, (at that time, this island belonged to the Spanish kingdom). Despite the proposed plague epidemic, we could not find solid evidence for the presence of the causative plague agent in these individuals. However, we retrieved from one individual a substantial fraction of the Salmonella enterica serovar Paratyphi C lineage linked to paratyphoid fever in colonial period Mexico. Our results support a growing body of evidence that Paratyphi C enteric fever was more prevalent in Europe and the Americas in the past than it is today.

RevDate: 2021-10-12
CmpDate: 2021-10-12

Ringbauer H, Novembre J, M Steinrücken (2021)

Parental relatedness through time revealed by runs of homozygosity in ancient DNA.

Nature communications, 12(1):5425.

Parental relatedness of present-day humans varies substantially across the globe, but little is known about the past. Here we analyze ancient DNA, leveraging that parental relatedness leaves genomic traces in the form of runs of homozygosity. We present an approach to identify such runs in low-coverage ancient DNA data aided by haplotype information from a modern phased reference panel. Simulation and experiments show that this method robustly detects runs of homozygosity longer than 4 centimorgan for ancient individuals with at least 0.3 × coverage. Analyzing genomic data from 1,785 ancient humans who lived in the last 45,000 years, we detect low rates of first cousin or closer unions across most ancient populations. Moreover, we find a marked decay in background parental relatedness co-occurring with or shortly after the advent of sedentary agriculture. We observe this signal, likely linked to increasing local population sizes, across several geographic transects worldwide.

RevDate: 2021-10-06
CmpDate: 2021-10-06

Klein CG, Pisani D, Field DJ, et al (2021)

Evolution and dispersal of snakes across the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction.

Nature communications, 12(1):5335.

Mass extinctions have repeatedly shaped global biodiversity. The Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) mass extinction caused the demise of numerous vertebrate groups, and its aftermath saw the rapid diversification of surviving mammals, birds, frogs, and teleost fishes. However, the effects of the K-Pg extinction on the evolution of snakes-a major clade of predators comprising over 3,700 living species-remains poorly understood. Here, we combine an extensive molecular dataset with phylogenetically and stratigraphically constrained fossil calibrations to infer an evolutionary timescale for Serpentes. We reveal a potential diversification among crown snakes associated with the K-Pg mass extinction, led by the successful colonisation of Asia by the major extant clade Afrophidia. Vertebral morphometrics suggest increasing morphological specialisation among marine snakes through the Paleogene. The dispersal patterns of snakes following the K-Pg underscore the importance of this mass extinction event in shaping Earth's extant vertebrate faunas.

RevDate: 2021-12-15
CmpDate: 2021-12-15

Silva M, Oteo-García G, Martiniano R, et al (2021)

Biomolecular insights into North African-related ancestry, mobility and diet in eleventh-century Al-Andalus.

Scientific reports, 11(1):18121.

Historical records document medieval immigration from North Africa to Iberia to create Islamic al-Andalus. Here, we present a low-coverage genome of an eleventh century CE man buried in an Islamic necropolis in Segorbe, near Valencia, Spain. Uniparental lineages indicate North African ancestry, but at the autosomal level he displays a mosaic of North African and European-like ancestries, distinct from any present-day population. Altogether, the genome-wide evidence, stable isotope results and the age of the burial indicate that his ancestry was ultimately a result of admixture between recently arrived Amazigh people (Berbers) and the population inhabiting the Peninsula prior to the Islamic conquest. We detect differences between our sample and a previously published group of contemporary individuals from Valencia, exemplifying how detailed, small-scale aDNA studies can illuminate fine-grained regional and temporal differences. His genome demonstrates how ancient DNA studies can capture portraits of past genetic variation that have been erased by later demographic shifts-in this case, most likely the seventeenth century CE expulsion of formerly Islamic communities as tolerance dissipated following the Reconquista by the Catholic kingdoms of the north.

RevDate: 2021-09-21
CmpDate: 2021-09-21

Gibbons A (2021)

How farming shaped Europeans' immunity.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 373(6560):1186.

[Figure: see text].

RevDate: 2021-10-06
CmpDate: 2021-10-06

Coll Macià M, Skov L, Peter BM, et al (2021)

Different historical generation intervals in human populations inferred from Neanderthal fragment lengths and mutation signatures.

Nature communications, 12(1):5317.

After the main Out-of-Africa event, humans interbred with Neanderthals leaving 1-2% of Neanderthal DNA scattered in small fragments in all non-African genomes today. Here we investigate what can be learned about human demographic processes from the size distribution of these fragments. We observe differences in fragment length across Eurasia with 12% longer fragments in East Asians than West Eurasians. Comparisons between extant populations with ancient samples show that these differences are caused by different rates of decay in length by recombination since the Neanderthal admixture. In concordance, we observe a strong correlation between the average fragment length and the mutation accumulation, similar to what is expected by changing the ages at reproduction as estimated from trio studies. Altogether, our results suggest differences in the generation interval across Eurasia, by up 10-20%, over the past 40,000 years. We use sex-specific mutation signatures to infer whether these changes were driven by shifts in either male or female age at reproduction, or both. We also find that previously reported variation in the mutational spectrum may be largely explained by changes to the generation interval. We conclude that Neanderthal fragment lengths provide unique insight into differences among human populations over recent history.

RevDate: 2021-09-07

Sedig JW, Olade I, Patterson N, et al (2021)


Journal of archaeological science, 133:.

This paper examines how ancient DNA data can enhance radiocarbon dating. Because there is a limit to the number of years that can separate the dates of death of related individuals, the ability to identify relatives through ancient DNA analysis can serve as a constraint on radiocarbon date range estimates. To determine the number of years that can separate related individuals, we modeled maximums derived from biological extremes of human reproduction and death ages and compiled data from historic and genealogical death records. We used these data to jointly study the date ranges of a global dataset of individuals that have been radiocarbon dated and for which ancient DNA analysis identified at least one relative. We found that many of these individuals could have their date uncertainties reduced by building in date of death separation constraints. We examined possible reasons for date discrepancies of related individuals, such as dating of different skeletal elements or wiggles in the radiocarbon curve. We also developed a program, refinedate, which researchers can download and use to help refine the radiocarbon date distributions of related individuals. Our research demonstrates that when combined, radiocarbon dating and ancient DNA analysis can provide a refined and richer view of the past.

RevDate: 2021-12-21
CmpDate: 2021-12-21

Kehlmaier C, López-Jurado LF, Hernández-Acosta N, et al (2021)

"Ancient DNA" reveals that the scientific name for an extinct tortoise from Cape Verde refers to an extant South American species.

Scientific reports, 11(1):17537.

We examined the type material of the extinct tortoise species Geochelone atlantica López-Jurado, Mateo and García-Márquez, 1998 from Sal Island, Cape Verde, using aDNA approaches and AMS radiocarbon dating. High-quality mitochondrial genomes obtained from the three type specimens support that all type material belongs to the same individual. In phylogenetic analyses using mitochondrial genomes of all species groups and genera of extant and some recently extinct tortoises, the type material clusters within the extant South American red-footed tortoise Chelonoidis carbonarius (Spix, 1824). Our radiocarbon date indicates that the tortoise from which the type series of G. atlantica originates was still alive during 1962 and 1974. These results provide firm evidence that the type material of G. atlantica does not belong to the Quaternary tortoise bones excavated on Sal Island in the 1930s, as originally thought. Thus, the extinct tortoise species remains unstudied and lacks a scientific name, and the name G. atlantica has to be relegated into the synonymy of C. carbonarius. The circumstances that led to this confusion currently cannot be disentangled.

RevDate: 2022-01-04
CmpDate: 2022-01-04

Bramanti B, Wu Y, Yang R, et al (2021)

Assessing the origins of the European Plagues following the Black Death: A synthesis of genomic, historical, and ecological information.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118(36):.

The second plague pandemic started in Europe with the Black Death in 1346 and lasted until the 19th century. Based on ancient DNA studies, there is a scientific disagreement over whether the bacterium, Yersinia pestis, came into Europe once (Hypothesis 1) or repeatedly over the following four centuries (Hypothesis 2). Here, we synthesize the most updated phylogeny together with historical, archeological, evolutionary, and ecological information. On the basis of this holistic view, we conclude that Hypothesis 2 is the most plausible. We also suggest that Y. pestis lineages might have developed attenuated virulence during transmission, which can explain the convergent evolutionary signals, including pla decay, that appeared at the end of the pandemics.

RevDate: 2021-08-30

Caramelli D, Posth C, O Rickards (2021)

Reconstruction of the human peopling of Europe: a genetic insight.

Annals of human biology, 48(3):175-178.

RevDate: 2021-11-19
CmpDate: 2021-11-19

Feldman M, Gnecchi-Ruscone GA, Lamnidis TC, et al (2021)

Where Asia meets Europe - recent insights from ancient human genomics.

Annals of human biology, 48(3):191-202.

CONTEXT: The peopling of Europe by modern humans is a widely debated topic in the field of modern and ancient genomics. While several recent syntheses have focussed on this topic, little has been discussed about the genetic history of populations in the continent's surrounding regions.

OBJECTIVE: We explore genetic transformations in three key areas that played an essential role in the formation of the European genetic landscape through time, focussing on the periods spanning from the Epipalaeolithic/Mesolithic and up until the Iron Age.

METHODS: We review published ancient genomic studies and integrate the associated data to provide a quantification and visualisation of major trends in the population histories of the Near East, the western Eurasian Steppe and North East Europe.

RESULTS: We describe cross-regional as well as localised prehistoric demographic shifts and discuss potential research directions while highlighting geo-temporal gaps in the data.

CONCLUSION: In recent years, archaeogenetic studies have contributed to the understanding of human genetic diversity through time in regions located at the doorstep of Europe. Further studies focussing on these areas will allow for a better characterisation of genetic shifts and regionally-specific patterns of admixture across western Eurasia.

RevDate: 2021-11-19
CmpDate: 2021-11-19

Modi A, Vai S, Posth C, et al (2021)

More data on ancient human mitogenome variability in Italy: new mitochondrial genome sequences from three Upper Palaeolithic burials.

Annals of human biology, 48(3):213-222.

BACKGROUND: Recently, the study of mitochondrial variability in ancient humans has allowed the definition of population dynamics that characterised Europe in the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene. Despite the abundance of sites and skeletal remains few data are available for Italy.

AIM: We reconstructed the mitochondrial genomes of three Upper Palaeolithic individuals for some of the most important Italian archaeological contexts: Paglicci (South-Eastern Italy), San Teodoro (South-Western Italy) and Arene Candide (North-Western Italy) caves.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: We explored the phylogenetic relationships of the three mitogenomes in the context of Western Eurasian ancient and modern variability.

RESULTS: Paglicci 12 belongs to sub-haplogroup U8c, described in only two other Gravettian individuals; San Teodoro 2 harbours a U2'3'4'7'8'9 sequence, the only lineage found in Sicily during the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene; Arene Candide 16 displays an ancestral U5b1 haplotype already detected in other Late Pleistocene hunter-gatherers from Central Europe.

CONCLUSION: Regional genetic continuity is highlighted in the Gravettian groups that succeeded in Paglicci. Data from one of the oldest human remains from Sicily reinforce the hypothesis that Epigravettian groups carrying U2'3'4'7'8'9 could be the first inhabitants of the island. The first pre-Neolithic mitogenome from North-Western Italy, sequenced here, shows more affinity with continental Europe than with the Italian peninsula.

RevDate: 2021-11-19
CmpDate: 2021-11-19

Serrano JG, Ordóñez AC, R Fregel (2021)

Paleogenomics of the prehistory of Europe: human migrations, domestication and disease.

Annals of human biology, 48(3):179-190.

A substantial portion of ancient DNA research has been centred on understanding European populations' origin and evolution. A rchaeological evidence has already shown that the peopling of Europe involved an intricate pattern of demic and/or cultural diffusion since the Upper Palaeolithic, which became more evident during the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods. However, ancient DNA data has been crucial in determining if cultural changes occurred due to the movement of ideas or people. With the advent of next-generation sequencing and population-based paleogenomic research, ancient DNA studies have been directed not only at the study of continental human migrations, but also to the detailed analysis of particular archaeological sites, the processes of domestication, or the spread of disease during prehistoric times. With this vast paleogenomic effort added to a proper archaeological contextualisation of results, a deeper understanding of Europe's peopling is starting to emanate.

RevDate: 2021-11-19
CmpDate: 2021-11-19

Scorrano G, Yediay FE, Pinotti T, et al (2021)

The genetic and cultural impact of the Steppe migration into Europe.

Annals of human biology, 48(3):223-233.

BACKGROUND: During the early 3rd millennium BCE migration from Pontic Steppe, mainly related to Yamnaya culture, has affected European populations both culturally and genetically, however, it has long been debated to what extent this migration was male-driven, and how this replacement process took place which eliminated partially/largely Neolithic male lines over time.

AIM: This paper aims to evaluate the influence of the Steppe migration on European Bronze Age populations by calculating both male and female genetic contributions of the Steppe-related ancestry to the European Bronze Age populations. With this approach, we will be able to clarify the hypotheses on whether it was male-biased migration or not.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: To evaluate the genetic impact and the proportion of the Steppe-related ancestry to the European Bronze Age populations, we performed PCA and qpAdm analyses by using published genome-wide data. In addition, we quantified male and female genetic contribution into Europe by using the analysis of uniparental markers and the X-chromosome.

RESULTS: The Steppe migration had a considerable impact on the genetic makeup of the Bronze Age European populations. The data suggest that the Steppe-related ancestry arriving into Central Europe was male-driven, dominantly in the Corded Ware culture populations and lesser in the Bell Beaker populations. In fact, there is no evidence that this migration had a significant input on the mitochondrial genetic pool of all European Bronze Age populations.

CONCLUSIONS: Our analyses suggest that the Steppe-related ancestry had genetic impact on mainly Central-Eastern Europe. Moreover, this migration was male-driven for most of the Central European populations belonging to the Corded Ware groups, and to a lesser extent for the Bell Beaker groups.

RevDate: 2021-11-19
CmpDate: 2021-11-19

Sarno S, Cilli E, Serventi P, et al (2021)

Insights into Punic genetic signatures in the southern necropolis of Tharros (Sardinia).

Annals of human biology, 48(3):247-259.

BACKGROUND: Phoenician and Punic expansions have been protagonists of intense trade networks and settlements in the Mediterranean Sea.

AIMS: The maternal genetic variability of ancient Punic samples from the Sardinian necropolis of Tharros was analysed, with the aim to explore genetic interactions and signatures of past population events.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: The mtDNA HVS-I and coding region SNPs were analysed in 14 Punic samples and 74 modern individuals from Cabras and Belvì (for which the HVS-II region was also analysed). The results were compared with 5,590 modern Euro-Mediterranean sequences and 127 ancient samples.

RESULTS: While contemporary groups fall within the genetic variability of other modern Sardinians, our Punic samples reveal proximity to present-day North-African and Iberian populations. Furthermore, Cabras and Belvì cluster mainly with pre-Phoenician groups, while samples from Tharros project with other Punic Sardinian individuals.

CONCLUSION: This study provides the first preliminary insights into the population dynamics of the Punic site of Tharros. While the number of currently available samples does not allow definitive investigation of the connection with indigenous Sardinian groups, our results seem to confirm internal migratory phenomena in the central-western Mediterranean and female participation in the Punic mobility.

RevDate: 2021-11-19
CmpDate: 2021-11-19

Calò CM, Vona G, Robledo R, et al (2021)

From old markers to next generation: reconstructing the history of the peopling of Sardinia.

Annals of human biology, 48(3):203-212.

CONTEXT: For many years the Sardinian population has been the object of numerous studies because of its unique genetic structure. Despite the extreme abundance of papers, various aspects of the peopling and genetic structure of Sardinia still remain uncertain and sometimes controversial.

OBJECTIVE: We reviewed what has emerged from different studies, focussing on some still open questions, such as the origin of Sardinians, their relationship with the Corsican population, and the intra-regional genetic heterogeneity.

METHODS: The various issues have been addressed through the analysis of classical markers, molecular markers and, finally, genomic data through next generation sequencing.

RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: Although the most ancient human remains date back to the end of the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic populations brought founding lineages that left evident traces in the modern population. Then, with the Neolithic, the island underwent an important demographic expansion. Subsequently, isolation and genetic drift contributed to maintain a significant genetic heterogeneity, but preserving the overall homogeneity on a regional scale. At the same time, isolation and genetic drift contributed to differentiate Sardinia from Corsica, which saw an important gene flow from the mainland. However, the isolation did not prevent gene flow from the neighbouring populations whose contribution are still recognisable in the genome of Sardinians.


RJR Experience and Expertise


Robbins holds BS, MS, and PhD degrees in the life sciences. He served as a tenured faculty member in the Zoology and Biological Science departments at Michigan State University. He is currently exploring the intersection between genomics, microbial ecology, and biodiversity — an area that promises to transform our understanding of the biosphere.


Robbins has extensive experience in college-level education: At MSU he taught introductory biology, genetics, and population genetics. At JHU, he was an instructor for a special course on biological database design. At FHCRC, he team-taught a graduate-level course on the history of genetics. At Bellevue College he taught medical informatics.


Robbins has been involved in science administration at both the federal and the institutional levels. At NSF he was a program officer for database activities in the life sciences, at DOE he was a program officer for information infrastructure in the human genome project. At the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, he served as a vice president for fifteen years.


Robbins has been involved with information technology since writing his first Fortran program as a college student. At NSF he was the first program officer for database activities in the life sciences. At JHU he held an appointment in the CS department and served as director of the informatics core for the Genome Data Base. At the FHCRC he was VP for Information Technology.


While still at Michigan State, Robbins started his first publishing venture, founding a small company that addressed the short-run publishing needs of instructors in very large undergraduate classes. For more than 20 years, Robbins has been operating The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project, a web site dedicated to the digital publishing of critical works in science, especially classical genetics.


Robbins is well-known for his speaking abilities and is often called upon to provide keynote or plenary addresses at international meetings. For example, in July, 2012, he gave a well-received keynote address at the Global Biodiversity Informatics Congress, sponsored by GBIF and held in Copenhagen. The slides from that talk can be seen HERE.


Robbins is a skilled meeting facilitator. He prefers a participatory approach, with part of the meeting involving dynamic breakout groups, created by the participants in real time: (1) individuals propose breakout groups; (2) everyone signs up for one (or more) groups; (3) the groups with the most interested parties then meet, with reports from each group presented and discussed in a subsequent plenary session.


Robbins has been engaged with photography and design since the 1960s, when he worked for a professional photography laboratory. He now prefers digital photography and tools for their precision and reproducibility. He designed his first web site more than 20 years ago and he personally designed and implemented this web site. He engages in graphic design as a hobby.

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In the mid-1970s, scientists began using DNA sequences to reexamine the history of all life. Perhaps the most startling discovery to come out of this new field—the study of life’s diversity and relatedness at the molecular level—is horizontal gene transfer (HGT), or the movement of genes across species lines. It turns out that HGT has been widespread and important; we now know that roughly eight percent of the human genome arrived sideways by viral infection—a type of HGT. In The Tangled Tree, “the grandest tale in biology….David Quammen presents the science—and the scientists involved—with patience, candor, and flair” (Nature). We learn about the major players, such as Carl Woese, the most important little-known biologist of the twentieth century; Lynn Margulis, the notorious maverick whose wild ideas about “mosaic” creatures proved to be true; and Tsutomu Wantanabe, who discovered that the scourge of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a direct result of horizontal gene transfer, bringing the deep study of genome histories to bear on a global crisis in public health.

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Collection of publications by R J Robbins

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Curriculum Vitae for R J Robbins

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