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31 Jul 2021 at 01:49
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Bibliography on: Paleontology Meets Genomics — Sequencing Ancient DNA


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RJR: Recommended Bibliography 31 Jul 2021 at 01:49 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: 2021-07-30
CmpDate: 2021-07-30

Gînguță A, Rusu I, Mircea C, et al (2021)

Mitochondrial DNA Profiles of Individuals from a 12th Century Necropolis in Feldioara (Transylvania).

Genes, 12(3):.

The genetic signature of modern Europeans is the cumulated result of millennia of discrete small-scale exchanges between multiple distinct population groups that performed a repeated cycle of movement, settlement, and interactions with each other. In this study we aimed to highlight one such minute genetic cycle in a sea of genetic interactions by reconstructing part of the genetic story of the migration, settlement, interaction, and legacy of what is today the Transylvanian Saxon. The analysis of the mitochondrial DNA control region of 13 medieval individuals from Feldioara necropolis (Transylvania region, Romania) reveals a genetically heterogeneous group where all identified haplotypes are different. Most of the perceived maternal lineages are of Western Eurasian origin, except for the Central Asiatic haplogroup C seen in only one sample. Comparisons with historical and modern populations describe the contribution of the investigated Saxon settlers to the genetic history of this part of Europe.

RevDate: 2021-07-27

Ottoni C, Borić D, Cheronet O, et al (2021)

Tracking the transition to agriculture in Southern Europe through ancient DNA analysis of dental calculus.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118(32):.

Archaeological dental calculus, or mineralized plaque, is a key tool to track the evolution of oral microbiota across time in response to processes that impacted our culture and biology, such as the rise of farming during the Neolithic. However, the extent to which the human oral flora changed from prehistory until present has remained elusive due to the scarcity of data on the microbiomes of prehistoric humans. Here, we present our reconstruction of oral microbiomes via shotgun metagenomics of dental calculus in 44 ancient foragers and farmers from two regions playing a pivotal role in the spread of farming across Europe-the Balkans and the Italian Peninsula. We show that the introduction of farming in Southern Europe did not alter significantly the oral microbiomes of local forager groups, and it was in particular associated with a higher abundance of the species Olsenella sp. oral taxon 807. The human oral environment in prehistory was dominated by a microbial species, Anaerolineaceae bacterium oral taxon 439, that diversified geographically. A Near Eastern lineage of this bacterial commensal dispersed with Neolithic farmers and replaced the variant present in the local foragers. Our findings also illustrate that major taxonomic shifts in human oral microbiome composition occurred after the Neolithic and that the functional profile of modern humans evolved in recent times to develop peculiar mechanisms of antibiotic resistance that were previously absent.

RevDate: 2021-07-27

Lazagabaster IA, Rovelli V, Fabre PH, et al (2021)

Rare crested rat subfossils unveil Afro-Eurasian ecological corridors synchronous with early human dispersals.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118(31):.

Biotic interactions between Africa and Eurasia across the Levant have invoked particular attention among scientists aiming to unravel early human dispersals. However, it remains unclear whether behavioral capacities enabled early modern humans to surpass the Saharo-Arabian deserts or if climatic changes triggered punctuated dispersals out of Africa. Here, we report an unusual subfossil assemblage discovered in a Judean Desert's cliff cave near the Dead Sea and dated to between ∼42,000 and at least 103,000 y ago. Paleogenomic and morphological comparisons indicate that the specimens belong to an extinct subspecies of the eastern African crested rat, Lophiomys imhausi maremortum subspecies nova, which diverged from the modern eastern African populations in the late Middle Pleistocene ∼226,000 to 165,000 y ago. The reported paleomitogenome is the oldest so far in the Levant, opening the door for future paleoDNA analyses in the region. Species distribution modeling points to the presence of continuous habitat corridors connecting eastern Africa with the Levant during the Last Interglacial ∼129,000 to 116,000 y ago, providing further evidence of the northern ingression of African biomes into Eurasia and reinforcing previous suggestions of the critical role of climate change in Late Pleistocene intercontinental biogeography. Furthermore, our study complements other paleoenvironmental proxies with local-instead of interregional-paleoenvironmental data, opening an unprecedented window into the Dead Sea rift paleolandscape.

RevDate: 2021-07-23

Rohrlach AB, Papac L, Childebayeva A, et al (2021)

Using Y-chromosome capture enrichment to resolve haplogroup H2 shows new evidence for a two-path Neolithic expansion to Western Europe.

Scientific reports, 11(1):15005.

Uniparentally-inherited markers on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and the non-recombining regions of the Y chromosome (NRY), have been used for the past 30 years to investigate the history of humans from a maternal and paternal perspective. Researchers have preferred mtDNA due to its abundance in the cells, and comparatively high substitution rate. Conversely, the NRY is less susceptible to back mutations and saturation, and is potentially more informative than mtDNA owing to its longer sequence length. However, due to comparatively poor NRY coverage via shotgun sequencing, and the relatively low and biased representation of Y-chromosome variants on capture assays such as the 1240 k, ancient DNA studies often fail to utilize the unique perspective that the NRY can yield. Here we introduce a new DNA enrichment assay, coined YMCA (Y-mappable capture assay), that targets the "mappable" regions of the NRY. We show that compared to low-coverage shotgun sequencing and 1240 k capture, YMCA significantly improves the mean coverage and number of sites covered on the NRY, increasing the number of Y-haplogroup informative SNPs, and allowing for the identification of previously undiscovered variants. To illustrate the power of YMCA, we show that the analysis of ancient Y-chromosome lineages can help to resolve Y-chromosomal haplogroups. As a case study, we focus on H2, a haplogroup associated with a critical event in European human history: the Neolithic transition. By disentangling the evolutionary history of this haplogroup, we further elucidate the two separate paths by which early farmers expanded from Anatolia and the Near East to western Europe.

RevDate: 2021-07-26

Juras A, Ehler E, Chyleński M, et al (2021)

Maternal genetic origin of the late and final Neolithic human populations from present-day Poland.

American journal of physical anthropology [Epub ahead of print].

OBJECTIVE: We aim to identify maternal genetic affinities between the Middle to Final Neolithic (3850-2300 BC) populations from present-day Poland and possible genetic influences from the Pontic steppe.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We conducted ancient DNA studies from populations associated with Złota, Globular Amphora, Funnel Beaker, and Corded Ware cultures (CWC). We sequenced genomic libraries on Illumina platform to generate 86 complete ancient mitochondrial genomes. Some of the samples were enriched for mitochondrial DNA using hybridization capture.

RESULTS: The maternal genetic composition found in Złota-associated individuals resembled that found in people associated with the Globular Amphora culture which indicates that both groups likely originated from the same maternal genetic background. Further, these two groups were closely related to the Funnel Beaker culture-associated population. None of these groups shared a close affinity to CWC-associated people. Haplogroup U4 was present only in the CWC group and absent in Złota group, Globular Amphora, and Funnel Beaker cultures.

DISCUSSION: The prevalence of mitochondrial haplogroups of Neolithic farmer origin identified in Early, Middle and Late Neolithic populations suggests a genetic continuity of these maternal lineages in the studied area. Although overlapping in time - and to some extent - in cultural expressions, none of the studied groups (Złota, Globular Amphora, Funnel Beaker), shared a close genetic affinity to CWC-associated people, indicating a larger extent of cultural influence from the Pontic steppe than genetic exchange. The higher frequency of haplogroup U5b found in populations associated with Funnel Beaker, Globular Amphora, and Złota cultures suggest a gradual maternal genetic influx from Mesolithic hunter-gatherers. Moreover, presence of haplogroup U4 in Corded Ware groups is most likely associated with the migrations from the Pontic steppe at the end of the Neolithic and supports the observed genetic distances.

RevDate: 2021-07-25

Gerussi A, Carbone M, Corpechot C, et al (2021)

The genetic architecture of primary biliary cholangitis.

European journal of medical genetics pii:S1769-7212(21)00158-0 [Epub ahead of print].

Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) is a rare autoimmune disease of the liver affecting the small bile ducts. From a genetic point of view, PBC is a complex trait and several genetic and environmental factors have been called in action to explain its etiopathogenesis. Similarly to other complex traits, PBC has benefited from the introduction of genome-wide association studies (GWAS), which identified many variants predisposing or protecting toward the development of the disease. While a progressive endeavour toward the characterization of candidate loci and downstream pathways is currently ongoing, there is still a relatively large portion of heritability of PBC to be revealed. In addition, genetic variation behind progression of the disease and therapeutic response are mostly to be investigated yet. This review outlines the state-of-the-art regarding the genetic architecture of PBC and provides some hints for future investigations, focusing on the study of gene-gene interactions, the application of whole-genome sequencing techniques, and the investigation of X chromosome that can be helpful to cover the missing heritability gap in PBC.

RevDate: 2021-07-26

Mitchell KJ (2021)

Ancient DNA from the koala lemur puts Madagascar on the paleogenomic map.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118(30):.

RevDate: 2021-07-20

Grewe F, Kronforst MR, Pierce NE, et al (2021)

Museum genomics reveals the Xerces blue butterfly (Glaucopsyche xerces) was a distinct species driven to extinction.

Biology letters, 17(7):20210123.

The last Xerces blue butterfly was seen in the early 1940s, and its extinction is credited to human urban development. This butterfly has become a North American icon for insect conservation, but some have questioned whether it was truly a distinct species, or simply an isolated population of another living species. To address this question, we leveraged next-generation sequencing using a 93-year-old museum specimen. We applied a genome skimming strategy that aimed for the organellar genome and high-copy fractions of the nuclear genome by a shallow sequencing approach. From these data, we were able to recover over 200 million nucleotides, which assembled into several phylogenetically informative markers and the near-complete mitochondrial genome. From our phylogenetic analyses and haplotype network analysis we conclude that the Xerces blue butterfly was a distinct species driven to extinction.

RevDate: 2021-07-15

Hofreiter M, Sneberger J, Pospisek M, et al (2021)

Progress in forensic bone DNA analysis: Lessons learned from ancient DNA.

Forensic science international. Genetics, 54:102538 pii:S1872-4973(21)00076-4 [Epub ahead of print].

Research on ancient and forensic DNA is related in many ways, and the two fields must deal with similar obstacles. Therefore, communication between these two communities has the potential to improve results in both research fields. Here, we present the insights gained in the ancient DNA community with regard to analyzing DNA from aged skeletal material and the potential use of the developed protocols in forensic work. We discuss the various steps, from choosing samples for DNA extraction to deciding between classical PCR amplification and massively parallel sequencing approaches. Based on the progress made in ancient DNA analyses combined with the requirements of forensic work, we suggest that there is substantial potential for incorporating ancient DNA approaches into forensic protocols, a process that has already begun to a considerable extent. However, taking full advantage of the experiences gained from ancient DNA work will require comparative studies by the forensic DNA community to tailor the methods developed for ancient samples to the specific needs of forensic studies and case work. If successful, in our view, the benefits for both communities would be considerable.

RevDate: 2021-07-14

Rossi C, Ruß-Popa G, Mattiangeli V, et al (2021)

Exceptional ancient DNA preservation and fibre remains of a Sasanian saltmine sheep mummy in Chehrābād, Iran.

Biology letters, 17(7):20210222.

Mummified remains have long attracted interest as a potential source of ancient DNA. However, mummification is a rare process that requires an anhydrous environment to rapidly dehydrate and preserve tissue before complete decomposition occurs. We present the whole-genome sequences (3.94 X) of an approximately 1600-year-old naturally mummified sheep recovered from Chehrābād, a salt mine in northwestern Iran. Comparative analyses of published ancient sequences revealed the remarkable DNA integrity of this mummy. Hallmarks of postmortem damage, fragmentation and hydrolytic deamination are substantially reduced, likely owing to the high salinity of this taphonomic environment. Metagenomic analyses reflect the profound influence of high-salt content on decomposition; its microbial profile is predominated by halophilic archaea and bacteria, possibly contributing to the remarkable preservation of the sample. Applying population genomic analyses, we find clustering of this sheep with Southwest Asian modern breeds, suggesting ancestry continuity. Genotyping of a locus influencing the woolly phenotype showed the presence of an ancestral 'hairy' allele, consistent with hair fibre imaging. This, along with derived alleles associated with the fat-tail phenotype, provides genetic evidence that Sasanian-period Iranians maintained specialized sheep flocks for different uses, with the 'hairy', 'fat-tailed'-genotyped sheep likely kept by the rural community of Chehrābād's miners.

RevDate: 2021-07-13

Gelabert P, Sawyer S, Bergström A, et al (2021)

Genome-scale sequencing and analysis of human, wolf, and bison DNA from 25,000-year-old sediment.

Current biology : CB pii:S0960-9822(21)00818-6 [Epub ahead of print].

Cave sediments have been shown to preserve ancient DNA but so far have not yielded the genome-scale information of skeletal remains. We retrieved and analyzed human and mammalian nuclear and mitochondrial environmental "shotgun" genomes from a single 25,000-year-old Upper Paleolithic sediment sample from Satsurblia cave, western Georgia:first, a human environmental genome with substantial basal Eurasian ancestry, which was an ancestral component of the majority of post-Ice Age people in the Near East, North Africa, and parts of Europe; second, a wolf environmental genome that is basal to extant Eurasian wolves and dogs and represents a previously unknown, likely extinct, Caucasian lineage; and third, a European bison environmental genome that is basal to present-day populations, suggesting that population structure has been substantially reshaped since the Last Glacial Maximum. Our results provide new insights into the Late Pleistocene genetic histories of these three species and demonstrate that direct shotgun sequencing of sediment DNA, without target enrichment methods, can yield genome-wide data informative of ancestry and phylogenetic relationships.

RevDate: 2021-07-13
CmpDate: 2021-07-13

Kim J, Jeon S, Choi JP, et al (2020)

The Origin and Composition of Korean Ethnicity Analyzed by Ancient and Present-Day Genome Sequences.

Genome biology and evolution, 12(5):553-565.

Koreans are thought to be an ethnic group of admixed northern and southern subgroups. However, the exact genetic origins of these two remain unclear. In addition, the past admixture is presumed to have taken place on the Korean peninsula, but there is no genomic scale analysis exploring the origin, composition, admixture, or the past migration of Koreans. Here, 88 Korean genomes compared with 91 other present-day populations showed two major genetic components of East Siberia and Southeast Asia. Additional paleogenomic analysis with 115 ancient genomes from Pleistocene hunter-gatherers to Iron Age farmers showed a gradual admixture of Tianyuan (40 ka) and Devil's gate (8 ka) ancestries throughout East Asia and East Siberia up until the Neolithic era. Afterward, the current genetic foundation of Koreans may have been established through a rapid admixture with ancient Southern Chinese populations associated with Iron Age Cambodians. We speculate that this admixing trend initially occurred mostly outside the Korean peninsula followed by continuous spread and localization in Korea, corresponding to the general admixture trend of East Asia. Over 70% of extant Korean genetic diversity is explained to be derived from such a recent population expansion and admixture from the South.

RevDate: 2021-07-09

Pinhasi R, K Douka (2021)

Before and after farming: The genetic structure of South China and Southeast Asia.

Cell, 184(14):3597-3598.

In this issue of Cell, Wang et al. harness ancient DNA methods to produce and analyze new genomic data from 31 individuals from South China, dated between 500 and 10,000-12,000 years ago. The study reveals a complex interplay between groups of three different genetic ancestries and provides a new perspective on interactions and agricultural dispersals in South China and Southeast Asia.

RevDate: 2021-07-02

Rotival M, Cossart P, L Quintana-Murci (2021)

Reconstructing 50,000 years of human history from our DNA: lessons from modern genomics.

Comptes rendus biologies, 344(2):177-187.

The advent of high throughput sequencing approaches and ancient DNA techniques have enabled reconstructing the history of human populations at an unprecedented level of resolution. The symposium from the French Academy of Sciences "50,000 ans d'épopée humaine dans notre ADN" has reviewed some of the latest contributions from the fields of genomics, archaeology, and linguistics to our understanding of >300,000 years of human history. DNA has revealed the richness of the human journey, from the deep divergences between human populations in Africa, to the first encounters of Homo Sapiens with other hominins on their way to Eurasia and the peopling of Remote Oceania. The symposium has also emphasized how migrations, cultural practices, and environmental pathogens have contributed to shape the genetic diversity of modern humans, through admixture, genetic drift or genetic adaptation. Finally, special attention was also given to how human behaviours have shaped the genome of other species, through the spreading of microbes and pathogens, as in the case of Yersinia Pestis, or through domestication, as elegantly demonstrated for dogs, horses, and apples. Altogether, this conference illustrated how the complex history of human populations is tightly linked with their contemporary genetic diversity that, in turn, has direct effects on their identity and health.

RevDate: 2021-07-02

de Vareilles A, Pelling R, Woodbridge J, et al (2021)

Archaeology and agriculture: plants, people, and past land-use.

Trends in ecology & evolution pii:S0169-5347(21)00176-2 [Epub ahead of print].

As a specialised branch of archaeology requiring specific field and laboratory methodologies, the contributions of archaeobotany have often been overlooked by the ecological research community. Developments in the fields of botany, chemistry, and ancient DNA analyses have greatly increased the potential for archaeobotany to contribute to topical questions relating to the Anthropocene and landscape transformations. We review the role of archaeobotany in identifying and describing past arable land use. Analytical techniques are illustrated with examples at both local and regional scales, demonstrating how archaeobotany can provide unique details of the wide array of past subsistence and land-use strategies. These data and their potential should be better recognised as important information that could underpin models seeking to evaluate or predict the effects of socioenvironmental interactions.

RevDate: 2021-07-02

Vai S, Diroma MA, Cannariato C, et al (2021)

How a Paleogenomic Approach Can Provide Details on Bioarchaeological Reconstruction: A Case Study from the Globular Amphorae Culture.

Genes, 12(6): pii:genes12060910.

Ancient human remains have the potential to explain a great deal about the prehistory of humankind. Due to recent technological and bioinformatics advances, their study, at the palaeogenomic level, can provide important information about population dynamics, culture changes, and the lifestyles of our ancestors. In this study, mitochondrial and nuclear genome data obtained from human bone remains associated with the Neolithic Globular Amphorae culture, which were recovered in the Megalithic barrow of Kierzkowo (Poland), were reanalysed to gain insight into the social organisation and use of the archaeological site and to provide information at the individual level. We were able to successfully estimate the minimum number of individuals, sex, kin relationships, and phenotypic traits of the buried individuals, despite the low level of preservation of the bone samples and the intricate taphonomic conditions. In addition, the evaluation of damage patterns allowed us to highlight the presence of "intruders"-that is, of more recent skeletal remains that did not belong to the original burial. Due to its characteristics, the study of the Kierzkowo barrow represented a challenge for the reconstruction of the biological profile of the human community who exploited it and an excellent example of the contribution that ancient genomic analysis can provide to archaeological reconstruction.

RevDate: 2021-07-02

Klecel W, E Martyniuk (2021)

From the Eurasian Steppes to the Roman Circuses: A Review of Early Development of Horse Breeding and Management.

Animals : an open access journal from MDPI, 11(7): pii:ani11071859.

The domestication of the horse began about 5500 years ago in the Eurasian steppes. In the following millennia horses spread across the ancient world, and their role in transportation and warfare affected every ancient culture. Ownership of horses became an indicator of wealth and social status. The importance of horses led to a growing interest in their breeding and management. Many phenotypic traits, such as height, behavior, and speed potential, have been proven to be a subject of selection; however, the details of ancient breeding practices remain mostly unknown. From the fourth millennium BP, through the Iron Age, many literature sources thoroughly describe horse training systems, as well as various aspects of husbandry, many of which are still in use today. The striking resemblance of ancient and modern equine practices leaves us wondering how much was accomplished through four thousand years of horse breeding.

RevDate: 2021-07-02

Purnomo GA, Mitchell KJ, O'Connor S, et al (2021)

Mitogenomes Reveal Two Major Influxes of Papuan Ancestry across Wallacea Following the Last Glacial Maximum and Austronesian Contact.

Genes, 12(7): pii:genes12070965.

The tropical archipelago of Wallacea contains thousands of individual islands interspersed between mainland Asia and Near Oceania, and marks the location of a series of ancient oceanic voyages leading to the peopling of Sahul-i.e., the former continent that joined Australia and New Guinea at a time of lowered sea level-by 50,000 years ago. Despite the apparent deep antiquity of human presence in Wallacea, prior population history research in this region has been hampered by patchy archaeological and genetic records and is largely concentrated upon more recent history that follows the arrival of Austronesian seafarers ~3000-4000 years ago (3-4 ka). To shed light on the deeper history of Wallacea and its connections with New Guinea and Australia, we performed phylogeographic analyses on 656 whole mitogenomes from these three regions, including 186 new samples from eight Wallacean islands and three West Papuan populations. Our results point to a surprisingly dynamic population history in Wallacea, marked by two periods of extensive demographic change concentrated around the Last Glacial Maximum ~15 ka and post-Austronesian contact ~3 ka. These changes appear to have greatly diminished genetic signals informative about the original peopling of Sahul, and have important implications for our current understanding of the population history of the region.

RevDate: 2021-07-02

Baldoni M, Nardi A, De Angelis F, et al (2021)

How Does Diet Influence Our Lives? Evaluating the Relationship between Isotopic Signatures and Mortality Patterns in Italian Roman Imperial and Medieval Periods.

Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 26(13): pii:molecules26133895.

The present research investigates the relationship between dietary habits and mortality patterns in the Roman Imperial and Medieval periods. The reconstructions of population dynamics and subsistence strategies provide a fascinating source of information for understanding our history. This is particularly true given that the changes in social, economic, political, and religious aspects related to the transition from the Roman period to the Middle Ages have been widely discussed. We analyzed the isotopic and mortality patterns of 616 individuals from 18 archeological sites (the Medieval Latium sites of Colonna, Santa Severa, Allumiere, Cencelle, and 14 Medieval and Imperial funerary contexts from Rome) to compile a survivorship analysis. A semi-parametric approach was applied, suggesting variations in mortality patterns between sexes in the Roman period. Nitrogen isotopic signatures influenced mortality in both periods, showing a quadratic and a linear effect for Roman Imperial and Medieval populations, respectively. No influence of carbon isotopic signatures has been detected for Roman Imperial populations. Conversely, increased mortality risk for rising carbon isotopic values was observed in Medieval samples.

RevDate: 2021-07-01

Sahoo S, Samal R, S Biswas (2021)

Efficacy of a novel bone preprocessing method for better DNA yield.

Forensic science international, 325:110887 pii:S0379-0738(21)00207-3 [Epub ahead of print].

In cases involving identification of missing persons, mass disasters and ancient DNA investigations, bone and teeth samples are often the only, and almost always the best, biological material available for DNA profiling. Standard methods for extraction of DNA from such samples involve grinding of the bone and teeth samples. Here, we present an extremely efficient protocol for recovery of DNA from bone samples by a method of scrapping. The study was carried out on 25 samples and it was found that the quantity of DNA isolated by the scrapping method was up to 1.131 ng/µl with a success rate of 93% as compared to a much lower yield of 0.359 ng/µl DNA isolated with a success rate of 28% through the grinding method. The scrapping method of DNA extraction has been proven to be extremely useful in forensic examination of challenging samples that had multiple failures using the traditional grinding method.

RevDate: 2021-06-30

Ingman T, Eisenmann S, Skourtanioti E, et al (2021)

Human mobility at Tell Atchana (Alalakh), Hatay, Turkey during the 2nd millennium BC: Integration of isotopic and genomic evidence.

PloS one, 16(6):e0241883 pii:PONE-D-20-33062.

The Middle and Late Bronze Age, a period roughly spanning the 2nd millennium BC (ca. 2000-1200 BC) in the Near East, is frequently referred to as the first 'international age', characterized by intense and far-reaching contacts between different entities from the eastern Mediterranean to the Near East and beyond. In a large-scale tandem study of stable isotopes and ancient DNA of individuals excavated at Tell Atchana (Alalakh, located in Hatay, Turkey), we explored the role of mobility at the capital of a regional kingdom, named Mukish during the Late Bronze Age, which spanned the Amuq Valley and some areas beyond. We generated strontium and oxygen isotope data from dental enamel for 53 individuals and 77 individuals, respectively, and added ancient DNA data of 10 newly sequenced individuals to a dataset of 27 individuals published in 2020. Additionally, we improved the DNA coverage of one individual from this 2020 dataset. The DNA data revealed a very homogeneous gene pool. This picture of an overwhelmingly local ancestry was consistent with the evidence of local upbringing in most of the individuals indicated by the isotopic data, where only five were found to be non-local. High levels of contact, trade, and exchange of ideas and goods in the Middle and Late Bronze Ages, therefore, seem not to have translated into high levels of individual mobility detectable at Tell Atchana.

RevDate: 2021-06-30

Euskirchen A, Hartmann L, Mazanec J, et al (2021)

The influence of sample quantity and lysis parameters on the success of ancient DNA extraction from skeletal remains.

BioTechniques [Epub ahead of print].

DNA extraction is of utmost importance in archaeobiology, as it determines the success of further DNA analyses. This study concentrates on the success of ancient DNA extraction using silica spin columns and PCR-based analysis from archaeological skeletal material and investigates the influence of sample quantity, lysis time and lysis temperature during sample preparation. The results show that lysis times ranging from 2 to 48 h are suitable, and that lysis should be carried out at a constant temperature of 56°C. Concerning sample quantity, 10 mg for mitochondrial DNA and 50 mg for chromosomal DNA are sufficient for high quality analyses. Thus invaluable sample material can be saved, and time of sample preparation can be reduced considerably.

RevDate: 2021-07-01

Bisso-Machado R, NJR Fagundes (2021)

Uniparental genetic markers in Native Americans: A summary of all available data from ancient and contemporary populations.

American journal of physical anthropology [Epub ahead of print].

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to create a comprehensive summary of available mtDNA and Y-chromosome data for Native Americans from North, Central, and South America, including both modern and ancient DNA. To illustrate the usefulness of this dataset we present a broad picture of the genetic variation for both markers across the Americas.

METHODS: We searched PubMed, ResearchGate, Google Scholar for studies about mtDNA or Y-chromosome variation in Native American populations, including geographic, linguistic, ecological (ecoregion), archeological and chronological information. We used AMOVA to estimate the genetic structure associated with language and ecoregion grouping and Mantel tests to evaluate the correlation between genetic and geographic distances.

RESULTS: Genetic data were obtained from 321 primary sources, including 22,569 individuals from 298 contemporary populations, and 3628 individuals from 202 archeological populations. MtDNA lineages of probable non-Amerindian origin were rare, in contrast with Y-chromosome lineages. Mantel tests showed a statistically significant correlation for the whole continent considering mtDNA but not the Y-chromosome. Genetic structure between groups was always stronger for mtDNA than for the Y-chromosome.

CONCLUSIONS: This study summarizes decades of research conducted in Native American populations for both mtDNA and the Y-chromosome. Continental or sub-continental patterns of variation reveal that most of the genetic variation occurs within populations rather than among linguistic or ecoregional groups, and that isolation by distance is barely detectable in most population sets. The genetic structure among groups was always larger for mtDNA than for the Y-chromosome, suggesting between-sex differences in gene flow.

RevDate: 2021-06-28

Sacks BN, Mitchell KJ, Quinn CB, et al (2021)

Pleistocene origins, western ghost lineages, and the emerging phylogeographic history of the red wolf and coyote.

Molecular ecology [Epub ahead of print].

The red wolf (Canis rufus) of the eastern US was driven to near-extinction by colonial-era persecution and habitat conversion, which facilitated coyote (C. latrans) range expansion and widespread hybridization with red wolves. The observation of some gray wolf (C. lupus) ancestry within red wolves sparked controversy over whether it was historically a subspecies of gray wolf with its predominant "coyote-like" ancestry obtained from post-colonial coyote hybridization (2-species hypothesis) versus a distinct species closely related to the coyote that hybridized with gray wolf (3-species hypothesis). We analyzed mitogenomes sourced from before the 20th century bottleneck and coyote invasion, along with hundreds of modern amplicons, which led us to reject the 2-species model and to investigate a broader phylogeographic 3-species model suggested by the fossil record. Our findings broadly support this model, in which red wolves ranged the width of the American continent prior to arrival of the gray wolf to the mid-continent 60-80 ka; red wolves subsequently disappeared from the mid-continent, relegated to California and the eastern forests, which ushered in emergence of the coyote in their place (50-30 ka); by the early Holocene (12-10 ka), coyotes had expanded into California, where they admixed with and phenotypically replaced western red wolves in a process analogous to the 20th century coyote invasion of the eastern forests. Findings indicate that the red wolf pre-dated not only European colonization but human, and possibly coyote, presence in North America . These findings highlight the urgency of expanding conservation efforts for the red wolf.

RevDate: 2021-06-25

Wang T, Wang W, Xie G, et al (2021)

Human population history at the crossroads of East and Southeast Asia since 11,000 years ago.

Cell pii:S0092-8674(21)00635-8 [Epub ahead of print].

Past human genetic diversity and migration between southern China and Southeast Asia have not been well characterized, in part due to poor preservation of ancient DNA in hot and humid regions. We sequenced 31 ancient genomes from southern China (Guangxi and Fujian), including two ∼12,000- to 10,000-year-old individuals representing the oldest humans sequenced from southern China. We discovered a deeply diverged East Asian ancestry in the Guangxi region that persisted until at least 6,000 years ago. We found that ∼9,000- to 6,000-year-old Guangxi populations were a mixture of local ancestry, southern ancestry previously sampled in Fujian, and deep Asian ancestry related to Southeast Asian Hòabìnhian hunter-gatherers, showing broad admixture in the region predating the appearance of farming. Historical Guangxi populations dating to ∼1,500 to 500 years ago are closely related to Tai-Kadai and Hmong-Mien speakers. Our results show heavy interactions among three distinct ancestries at the crossroads of East and Southeast Asia.

RevDate: 2021-07-01

Souilmi Y, Lauterbur ME, Tobler R, et al (2021)

An ancient viral epidemic involving host coronavirus interacting genes more than 20,000 years ago in East Asia.

Current biology : CB [Epub ahead of print].

The current severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has emphasized the vulnerability of human populations to novel viral pressures, despite the vast array of epidemiological and biomedical tools now available. Notably, modern human genomes contain evolutionary information tracing back tens of thousands of years, which may help identify the viruses that have impacted our ancestors-pointing to which viruses have future pandemic potential. Here, we apply evolutionary analyses to human genomic datasets to recover selection events involving tens of human genes that interact with coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2, that likely started more than 20,000 years ago. These adaptive events were limited to the population ancestral to East Asian populations. Multiple lines of functional evidence support an ancient viral selective pressure, and East Asia is the geographical origin of several modern coronavirus epidemics. An arms race with an ancient coronavirus, or with a different virus that happened to use similar interactions as coronaviruses with human hosts, may thus have taken place in ancestral East Asian populations. By learning more about our ancient viral foes, our study highlights the promise of evolutionary information to better predict the pandemics of the future. Importantly, adaptation to ancient viral epidemics in specific human populations does not necessarily imply any difference in genetic susceptibility between different human populations, and the current evidence points toward an overwhelming impact of socioeconomic factors in the case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

RevDate: 2021-06-24

Essel E, Korlević P, M Meyer (2021)

A method for the temperature-controlled extraction of DNA from ancient bones.

BioTechniques [Epub ahead of print].

Contamination with microbial and other exogenous DNA poses a significant challenge in the generation of genome-wide sequence data from ancient skeletal remains. Here we describe a method for separating ancient DNA into multiple fractions during DNA extraction by sequential temperature-controlled release of DNA into sodium phosphate buffer. An evaluation of the effectiveness of the method using a set of three ancient bones resulted in between 1.6- and 32-fold enrichment of endogenous DNA compared with regular DNA extraction. For two bones, the method outperformed previous methods of decontaminating ancient bones, including hypochlorite treatment, which resulted in near-complete destruction of DNA in the worst-preserved sample. This extraction method expands the spectrum of methods available for depleting contaminant DNA from ancient skeletal remains.

RevDate: 2021-06-24

Marciniak S, Mughal MR, Godfrey LR, et al (2021)

Evolutionary and phylogenetic insights from a nuclear genome sequence of the extinct, giant, "subfossil" koala lemur Megaladapis edwardsi.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118(26):.

No endemic Madagascar animal with body mass >10 kg survived a relatively recent wave of extinction on the island. From morphological and isotopic analyses of skeletal "subfossil" remains we can reconstruct some of the biology and behavioral ecology of giant lemurs (primates; up to ∼160 kg) and other extraordinary Malagasy megafauna that survived into the past millennium. Yet, much about the evolutionary biology of these now-extinct species remains unknown, along with persistent phylogenetic uncertainty in some cases. Thankfully, despite the challenges of DNA preservation in tropical and subtropical environments, technical advances have enabled the recovery of ancient DNA from some Malagasy subfossil specimens. Here, we present a nuclear genome sequence (∼2× coverage) for one of the largest extinct lemurs, the koala lemur Megaladapis edwardsi (∼85 kg). To support the testing of key phylogenetic and evolutionary hypotheses, we also generated high-coverage nuclear genomes for two extant lemurs, Eulemur rufifrons and Lepilemur mustelinus, and we aligned these sequences with previously published genomes for three other extant lemurs and 47 nonlemur vertebrates. Our phylogenetic results confirm that Megaladapis is most closely related to the extant Lemuridae (typified in our analysis by E. rufifrons) to the exclusion of L. mustelinus, which contradicts morphology-based phylogenies. Our evolutionary analyses identified significant convergent evolution between M. edwardsi and an extant folivore (a colobine monkey) and an herbivore (horse) in genes encoding proteins that function in plant toxin biodegradation and nutrient absorption. These results suggest that koala lemurs were highly adapted to a leaf-based diet, which may also explain their convergent craniodental morphology with the small-bodied folivore Lepilemur.

RevDate: 2021-06-19

Baleka S, Herridge VL, Catalano G, et al (2021)

Estimating the dwarfing rate of an extinct Sicilian elephant.

Current biology : CB pii:S0960-9822(21)00735-1 [Epub ahead of print].

Evolution on islands, together with the often extreme phenotypic changes associated with it, has attracted much interest from evolutionary biologists. However, measuring the rate of change of phenotypic traits of extinct animals can be challenging, in part due to the incompleteness of the fossil record. Here, we use combined molecular and fossil evidence to define the minimum and maximum rate of dwarfing in an extinct Mediterranean dwarf elephant from Puntali Cave (Sicily).1 Despite the challenges associated with recovering ancient DNA from warm climates,2 we successfully retrieved a mitogenome from a sample with an estimated age between 175,500 and 50,000 years. Our results suggest that this specific Sicilian elephant lineage evolved from one of the largest terrestrial mammals that ever lived3 to an island species weighing less than 20% of its original mass with an estimated mass reduction between 0.74 and 200.95 kg and height reduction between 0.15 and 41.49 mm per generation. We show that combining ancient DNA with paleontological and geochronological evidence can constrain the timing of phenotypic changes with greater accuracy than could be achieved using any source of evidence in isolation.

RevDate: 2021-06-19

Roca-Rada X, Politis G, Messineo PG, et al (2021)

Ancient mitochondrial genomes from the Argentinian Pampas inform the early peopling of the Southern Cone of South America.

iScience, 24(6):102553.

The Southern Cone of South America (SCSA) is a key region for investigations about the peopling of the Americas. However, little is known about the eastern sector, the Argentinian Pampas. We analyzed 18 mitochondrial genomes-7 of which are novel-from human skeletal remains from 3 Early to Late Holocene archaeological sites. The Pampas present a distinctive genetic makeup compared to other Middle to Late Holocene pre-Columbian SCSA populations. We also report the earliest individuals carrying SCSA-specific mitochondrial haplogroups D1j and D1g from Early and Middle Holocene, respectively. Using these deep calibration time points in Bayesian phylogenetic reconstructions, we suggest that the first settlers of the Pampas were part of a single and rapid dispersal ∼15,600 years ago. Finally, we propose that present-day genetic differences between the Pampas and the rest of the SCSA are due to founder effects, genetic drift, and a partial population replacement ∼9,000 years ago.

RevDate: 2021-07-02
CmpDate: 2021-07-02

Gibbons A (2021)

Genomes offer rare glimpse of Neanderthal family groups.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 372(6548):1251-1252.

RevDate: 2021-06-24

Smith AD, Kamiński MJ, Kanda K, et al (2021)

Recovery and analysis of ancient beetle DNA from subfossil packrat middens using high-throughput sequencing.

Scientific reports, 11(1):12635.

The study of ancient DNA is revolutionizing our understanding of paleo-ecology and the evolutionary history of species. Insects are essential components in many ecosystems and constitute the most diverse group of animals. Yet they are largely neglected in ancient DNA studies. We report the results of the first targeted investigation of insect ancient DNA to positively identify subfossil insects to species, which includes the recovery of endogenous content from samples as old as ~ 34,355 ybp. Potential inhibitors currently limiting widespread research on insect ancient DNA are discussed, including the lack of closely related genomic reference sequences (decreased mapping efficiency) and the need for more extensive collaborations with insect taxonomists. The advantages of insect-based studies are also highlighted, especially in the context of understanding past climate change. In this regard, insect remains from ancient packrat middens are a rich and largely uninvestigated resource for exploring paleo-ecology and species dynamics over time.

RevDate: 2021-06-15

Speidel L, Cassidy L, Davies RW, et al (2021)

Inferring Population Histories for Ancient Genomes Using Genome-Wide Genealogies.

Molecular biology and evolution pii:6299394 [Epub ahead of print].

Ancient genomes anchor genealogies in directly observed historical genetic variation and contextualise ancestral lineages with archaeological insights into their geography and cultural associations. However, the majority of ancient genomes are of lower coverage and cannot be directly built into genealogies. Here, we present a fast and scalable method, Colate, the first approach for inferring ancestral relationships through time between low-coverage genomes without requiring phasing or imputation. Our approach leverages sharing patterns of mutations dated using a genealogy to infer coalescence rates. For deeply sequenced ancient genomes, we additionally introduce an extension of the Relate algorithm for joint inference of genealogies incorporating such genomes. Application to 278 present-day and 430 ancient DNA samples of > 0.5x mean coverage allows us to identify dynamic population structure and directional gene flow between early farmer and European hunter-gatherer groups. We further show that the previously reported, but still unexplained, increase in the TCC/TTC mutation rate, which is strongest in West Eurasia today, was already present at similar strength and widespread in the Late Glacial Period ∼10k-15k years ago, but is not observed in samples >30k years old. It is strongest in Neolithic farmers, and highly correlated with recent coalescence rates between other genomes and a 10,000-year-old Anatolian hunter-gatherer. This suggests gene-flow among ancient peoples postdating the last glacial maximum as widespread and localises the driver of this mutational signal in both time and geography in that region. Our approach should be widely applicable in future for addressing other evolutionary questions, and in other species.

RevDate: 2021-06-16

Dorman MJ, Thomson NR, J Campos (2021)

Genomic contextualisation of ancient DNA molecular data from an Argentinian fifth pandemic Vibrio cholerae infection.

Microbial genomics, 7(6):.

RevDate: 2021-06-15

Del Corvo M, Lazzari B, Capra E, et al (2021)

Methylome Patterns of Cattle Adaptation to Heat Stress.

Frontiers in genetics, 12:633132.

Heat stress has a detrimental impact on cattle health, welfare and productivity by affecting gene expression, metabolism and immune response, but little is known on the epigenetic mechanisms mediating the effect of temperature at the cellular and organism level. In this study, we investigated genome-wide DNA methylation in blood samples collected from 5 bulls of the heat stress resilient Nellore breed and 5 bulls of the Angus that are more heat stress susceptible, exposed to the sun and high temperature-high humidity during the summer season of the Brazilian South-East region. The methylomes were analyzed during and after the exposure by Reduced Representation Bisulfite Sequencing, which provided genome-wide single-base resolution methylation profiles. Significant methylation changes between stressful and recovery periods were observed in 819 genes. Among these, 351 were only seen in Angus, 366 were specific to Nellore, and 102 showed significant changes in methylation patterns in both breeds. KEGG and Gene Ontology (GO) enrichment analyses showed that responses were breed-specific. Interestingly, in Nellore significant genes and pathways were mainly involved in stress responses and cellular defense and were under methylated during heat stress, whereas in Angus the response was less focused. These preliminary results suggest that heat challenge induces changes in methylation patterns in specific loci, which should be further scrutinized to assess their role in heat tolerance.

RevDate: 2021-06-12

Fareed M, Sharma V, Singh I, et al (2021)

Whole-Exome Sequencing Reveals a Rare Variant of OTOF Gene Causing Congenital Non-syndromic Hearing Loss Among Large Muslim Families Favoring Consanguinity.

Frontiers in genetics, 12:641925.

Non-syndromic hearing loss (NSHL) is one of the most frequent auditory deficits in humans characterized by high clinical and genetic heterogeneity. Very few studies have reported the relationship between OTOF (Locus: DFNB9) and hereditary hearing loss in India. We aimed to decipher the genetic cause of prelingual NSHL in a large affected Muslim consanguineous families using whole-exome sequencing (WES). The study was performed following the guidelines and regulations of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi. The population was identified from Jammu and Kashmir, the Northernmost part of India. Near about 100 individuals were born deaf-mute in the village of 3,000 inhabitants. A total of 103 individuals (with 52 cases and 51 controls) agreed to participate in this study. Our study revealed a rare non-sense homozygous mutation NC_000002.11:g.2:26702224G>A; NM_001287489.2:c.2122C>T; NP_001274418.1:p.(Arg708∗) in the 18th exon of the OTOF gene. Our study provides the first insight into this homozygous condition, which has not been previously reported in ExAC, 1,000 Genome and genomAD databases. Furthermore, the variant was confirmed in the population cohort (n = 103) using Sanger sequencing. In addition to the pathogenic OTOF variant, the WES data also revealed novel and recurrent mutations in CDH23, GJB2, MYO15A, OTOG, and SLC26A4 genes. The rare pathogenic and the novel variants observed in this study have been submitted to the ClinVar database and are publicly available online with the accessions SCV001448680.1, SCV001448682.1 and SCV001448681.1. We conclude that OTOF-related NSHL hearing loss is prevalent in the region due to successive inbreeding in its generations. We recommend premarital genetic testing and genetic counseling strategies to minimize and control the disease risk in future generations.

RevDate: 2021-06-12

Locarnini SA, Littlejohn M, LKW Yuen (2021)

Origins and Evolution of the Primate Hepatitis B Virus.

Frontiers in microbiology, 12:653684.

Recent interest in the origins and subsequent evolution of the hepatitis B virus (HBV) has strengthened with the discovery of ancient HBV sequences in fossilized remains of humans dating back to the Neolithic period around 7,000 years ago. Metagenomic analysis identified a number of African non-human primate HBV sequences in the oldest samples collected, indicating that human HBV may have at some stage, evolved in Africa following zoonotic transmissions from higher primates. Ancestral genotype A and D isolates were also discovered from the Bronze Age, not in Africa but rather Eurasia, implying a more complex evolutionary and migratory history for HBV than previously recognized. Most full-length ancient HBV sequences exhibited features of inter genotypic recombination, confirming the importance of recombination and the mutation rate of the error-prone viral replicase as drivers for successful HBV evolution. A model for the origin and evolution of HBV is proposed, which includes multiple cross-species transmissions and favors subsequent recombination events that result in a pathogen and can successfully transmit and cause persistent infection in the primate host.

RevDate: 2021-06-25
CmpDate: 2021-06-25

Irish JD, D Usai (2021)

The transition from hunting-gathering to agriculture in Nubia: dental evidence for and against selection, population continuity and discontinuity.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 288(1952):20210969.

Some researchers posit population continuity between Late Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers of the late Pleistocene and Holocene agriculturalists from Lower (northern) Nubia, in northeast Africa. Substantial craniodental differences in these time-successive groups are suggested to result from in situ evolution. Specifically, these populations are considered a model example for subsistence-related selection worldwide in the transition to agriculture. Others question continuity, with findings indicating that the largely homogeneous Holocene populations differ significantly from late Pleistocene Lower Nubians. If the latter are representative of the local populace, post-Pleistocene discontinuity is implied. So who was ancestral to the Holocene agriculturalists? Dental morphological analyses of 18 samples (1075 individuals), including one dated to the 12th millennium BCE from Al Khiday, near the Upper Nubian border, may provide an answer. It is the first Late Palaeolithic sample (n = 55) recovered within the region in approximately 50 years. Using the Arizona State University Dental Anthropology System to record traits and multivariate statistics to estimate biological affinities, Al Khiday is comparable to several Holocene samples, yet also highly divergent from contemporaneous Lower Nubians. Thus, population continuity is indicated after all, but with late Pleistocene Upper-rather than Lower Nubians as originally suggested-assuming dental traits are adequate proxies for ancient DNA.

RevDate: 2021-07-04

Daly KG, Mattiangeli V, Hare AJ, et al (2021)

Herded and hunted goat genomes from the dawn of domestication in the Zagros Mountains.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118(25):.

The Aceramic Neolithic (∼9600 to 7000 cal BC) period in the Zagros Mountains, western Iran, provides some of the earliest archaeological evidence of goat (Capra hircus) management and husbandry by circa 8200 cal BC, with detectable morphological change appearing ∼1,000 y later. To examine the genomic imprint of initial management and its implications for the goat domestication process, we analyzed 14 novel nuclear genomes (mean coverage 1.13X) and 32 mitochondrial (mtDNA) genomes (mean coverage 143X) from two such sites, Ganj Dareh and Tepe Abdul Hosein. These genomes show two distinct clusters: those with domestic affinity and a minority group with stronger wild affinity, indicating that managed goats were genetically distinct from wild goats at this early horizon. This genetic duality, the presence of long runs of homozygosity, shared ancestry with later Neolithic populations, a sex bias in archaeozoological remains, and demographic profiles from across all layers of Ganj Dareh support management of genetically domestic goat by circa 8200 cal BC, and represent the oldest to-this-date reported livestock genomes. In these sites a combination of high autosomal and mtDNA diversity, contrasting limited Y chromosomal lineage diversity, an absence of reported selection signatures for pigmentation, and the wild morphology of bone remains illustrates domestication as an extended process lacking a strong initial bottleneck, beginning with spatial control, demographic manipulation via biased male culling, captive breeding, and subsequently phenotypic and genomic selection.

RevDate: 2021-06-05

Redjala O, Sari-Ahmed M, Cherifi M, et al (2021)

Children hypertension in Northern Africa.

American journal of cardiovascular disease, 11(2):222-230.

OBJECTIVES: To assess factors associated with prehypertension and hypertension among children in North Africa.

METHODS: An epidemiological observational, school- and college-based study among 3562 healthy children and adolescents to assess factors associated with blood pressure categories (normal, prehypertensive, hypertensive), including perinatal (gestational age, birth weight, breastfeeding) and current lifestyle characteristics (body mass index, time spent watching a screen and time spent exercising).

RESULTS: Prevalence of hypertension increased with age from 8.7% between 6-10 years to 14.7% between 11-15 years, and 15.6% above 15 years. Prevalence of prehypertension and hypertension increased with body mass index from 9.9% and 11.5% among children not overweight to 15.6% (RR 1.58, 95% CI 1.24-2.02, P<0.001) and 17.2% (RR 1.50, 95% CI 1.22-1.85, P<0.001) among those overweight and to 26.8% (RR 2.72, 95% CI 2.04-3.64, P<0.01) and 32.3% (RR 2.82, 95% CI 2.27-3.50, P<0.01) among obese children. There was a trend of association of prehypertension with the time spent watching Television, internet and electronic games. Children whose mother or father had a history of hypertension had a trend to be prehypertensive or hypertensive. A parental hypertension was found in 33.6% of normotensive, 38.2% of prehypertensive, and 42.6% of hypertensive children (P=0.05). Children with prehypertension or hypertension were more likely to have a diabetic father or mother (22.8% and 22.6% vs 15.8%, respectively, P=0.01). Also, prehypertension and hypertension were associated with shorter gestational age, early birth, reduced birth weight, and shorter breastfeeding.

CONCLUSION: Prehypertension and hypertension have a high prevalence among children in North Africa. They are associated with overweight, obesity, diabetes, a shorter gestational age, a lower birth weight and a shorter breastfeeding.

RevDate: 2021-06-08

Brown AG, Van Hardenbroek M, Fonville T, et al (2021)

Ancient DNA, lipid biomarkers and palaeoecological evidence reveals construction and life on early medieval lake settlements.

Scientific reports, 11(1):11807.

Direct evidence of ancient human occupation is typically established through archaeological excavation. Excavations are costly and destructive, and practically impossible in some lake and wetland environments. We present here an alternative approach, providing direct evidence from lake sediments using DNA metabarcoding, steroid lipid biomarkers (bile acids) and from traditional environmental analyses. Applied to an early Medieval Celtic settlement in Ireland (a crannog) this approach provides a site chronology and direct evidence of human occupation, crops, animal farming and on-site slaughtering. This is the first independently-dated, continuous molecular archive of human activity from an archeological site, demonstrating a link between animal husbandry, food resources, island use. These sites are under threat but are impossible to preserve in-situ so this approach can be used, with or without excavation, to produce a robust and full site chronology and provide direct evidence of occupation, the use of plants and animals, and activities such as butchery.

RevDate: 2021-06-25
CmpDate: 2021-06-25

Eriksson JS, Bacon CD, Bennett DJ, et al (2021)

Gene count from target sequence capture places three whole genome duplication events in Hibiscus L. (Malvaceae).

BMC ecology and evolution, 21(1):107.

BACKGROUND: The great diversity in plant genome size and chromosome number is partly due to polyploidization (i.e. genome doubling events). The differences in genome size and chromosome number among diploid plant species can be a window into the intriguing phenomenon of past genome doubling that may be obscured through time by the process of diploidization. The genus Hibiscus L. (Malvaceae) has a wide diversity of chromosome numbers and a complex genomic history. Hibiscus is ideal for exploring past genomic events because although two ancient genome duplication events have been identified, more are likely to be found due to its diversity of chromosome numbers. To reappraise the history of whole-genome duplication events in Hibiscus, we tested three alternative scenarios describing different polyploidization events.

RESULTS: Using target sequence capture, we designed a new probe set for Hibiscus and generated 87 orthologous genes from four diploid species. We detected paralogues in > 54% putative single-copy genes. 34 of these genes were selected for testing three different genome duplication scenarios using gene counting. All species of Hibiscus sampled shared one genome duplication with H. syriacus, and one whole genome duplication occurred along the branch leading to H. syriacus.

CONCLUSIONS: Here, we corroborated the independent genome doubling previously found in the lineage leading to H. syriacus and a shared genome doubling of this lineage and the remainder of Hibiscus. Additionally, we found a previously undiscovered genome duplication shared by the /Pavonia and /Malvaviscus clades (both nested within Hibiscus) with the occurrences of two copies in what were otherwise single-copy genes. Our results highlight the complexity of genomic diversity in some plant groups, which makes orthology assessment and accurate phylogenomic inference difficult.

RevDate: 2021-06-06

Senczuk G, Mastrangelo S, Ajmone-Marsan P, et al (2021)

On the origin and diversification of Podolian cattle breeds: testing scenarios of European colonization using genome-wide SNP data.

Genetics, selection, evolution : GSE, 53(1):48.

BACKGROUND: During the Neolithic expansion, cattle accompanied humans and spread from their domestication centres to colonize the ancient world. In addition, European cattle occasionally intermingled with both indicine cattle and local aurochs resulting in an exclusive pattern of genetic diversity. Among the most ancient European cattle are breeds that belong to the so-called Podolian trunk, the history of which is still not well established. Here, we used genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data on 806 individuals belonging to 36 breeds to reconstruct the origin and diversification of Podolian cattle and to provide a reliable scenario of the European colonization, through an approximate Bayesian computation random forest (ABC-RF) approach.

RESULTS: Our results indicate that European Podolian cattle display higher values of genetic diversity indices than both African taurine and Asian indicine breeds. Clustering analyses show that Podolian breeds share close genomic relationships, which suggests a likely common genetic ancestry. Among the simulated and tested scenarios of the colonization of Europe from taurine cattle, the greatest support was obtained for the model assuming at least two waves of diffusion. Time estimates are in line with an early migration from the domestication centre of non-Podolian taurine breeds followed by a secondary migration of Podolian breeds. The best fitting model also suggests that the Italian Podolian breeds are the result of admixture between different genomic pools.

CONCLUSIONS: This comprehensive dataset that includes most of the autochthonous cattle breeds belonging to the so-called Podolian trunk allowed us not only to shed light onto the origin and diversification of this group of cattle, but also to gain new insights into the diffusion of European cattle. The most well-supported scenario of colonization points to two main waves of migrations: with one that occurred alongside with the Neolithic human expansion and gave rise to the non-Podolian taurine breeds, and a more recent one that favoured the diffusion of European Podolian. In this process, we highlight the importance of both the Mediterranean and Danube routes in promoting European cattle colonization. Moreover, we identified admixture as a driver of diversification in Italy, which could represent a melting pot for Podolian cattle.

RevDate: 2021-06-15

Mao X, Zhang H, Qiao S, et al (2021)

The deep population history of northern East Asia from the Late Pleistocene to the Holocene.

Cell, 184(12):3256-3266.e13.

Northern East Asia was inhabited by modern humans as early as 40 thousand years ago (ka), as demonstrated by the Tianyuan individual. Using genome-wide data obtained from 25 individuals dated to 33.6-3.4 ka from the Amur region, we show that Tianyuan-related ancestry was widespread in northern East Asia before the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). At the close of the LGM stadial, the earliest northern East Asian appeared in the Amur region, and this population is basal to ancient northern East Asians. Human populations in the Amur region have maintained genetic continuity from 14 ka, and these early inhabitants represent the closest East Asian source known for Ancient Paleo-Siberians. We also observed that EDAR V370A was likely to have been elevated to high frequency after the LGM, suggesting the possible timing for its selection. This study provides a deep look into the population dynamics of northern East Asia.

RevDate: 2021-06-17

van Spelde AM, Schroeder H, Kjellström A, et al (2021)

Approaches to osteoporosis in paleopathology: How did methodology shape bone loss research?.

International journal of paleopathology, 33:245-257.

OBJECTIVE: This paper will review how different methods employed to study bone loss in the past were used to explore different questions and aspects of bone loss, how methodology has changed over time, and how these different approaches have informed our understanding of bone loss in the past.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A review and discussion is conducted on research protocols and results of 84 paleopathology publications on bone loss in archaeological skeletal collections published between 1969 and 2021.

CONCLUSIONS: The variety in research protocols confounds accurate meta-analysis of previously published research; however, more recent publications incorporate a combination of bone mass and bone quality based methods. Biased sample selection has resulted in a predominance of European and Medieval publications, limiting more general observations on bone loss in the past. Collection of dietary or paleopathological covariables is underemployed in the effort to interpret bone loss patterns.

SIGNIFICANCE: Paleopathology publications have demonstrated differences in bone loss between distinct archaeological populations, between sex and age groups, and have suggested factors underlying observed differences. However, a lack of a gold standard has encouraged the use of a wide range of methods. Understanding how this array of methods effects results is crucial in contextualizing our knowledge of bone loss in the past.

LIMITATIONS: The development of a research protocol is also influenced by available expertise, available equipment, restrictions imposed by the curator, and site-specific taphonomic aspects. These factors will likely continue to cause (minor) biases even if a best practice can be established.

Greater effort to develop uniform terminology and operational definitions of osteoporosis in skeletal remains, as well as the expansion of time scale and geographical areas studied. The Next-Generation Sequencing revolution has also opened up the possibility of ancient DNA analyses to study genetic predisposition to bone loss in the past.

RevDate: 2021-05-27

Gaeta R (2021)

Ancient DNA and paleogenetics: risks and potentiality.

Pathologica, 113(2):141-146.

Paleopathology, the science that studies the diseases of the past, has always been addressed to the future in the use of new diagnostic methods. One of its relatively recent branches is paleogenetics, which is the study of genetic material from the past. Nuclear and mitochondrial DNA recovered from archaeological and paleontological specimens is called ancient DNA (aDNA), which can be extracted from a large variety of biological materials, of different origin, state of preservation and age, such as bones, teeth, coprolites, mummified tissues and hairs. There are many applications for ancient DNA research in the field of archaeology and paleopathology: population demography, genealogy, disease studies, archaeological reconstruction of plant vegetation, calibration of the molecular clock, phylogenetic relationship between different mammals and interpretation of the paleoclimate. However, the study of ancient genetic material is extremely difficult due to its poor quality and quantity, as well possible contamination with modern DNA. New advanced methods will allow extracting DNA from a greater variety of materials, and improvements in sequencing techniques will unveil data that are currently concealed.

The aim of this paper is to provide initial insights into paleogenetics and ancient DNA study and to illustrate the limits, risks and potentiality of the research on the genetic material of ancient specimens, whose results have a strong impact on the present and future medicine.

RevDate: 2021-06-01

Yang S, K Ye (2021)

Recent advances in understanding the adaptive evolution of metabolic genes and traits.

Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care, 24(4):308-314.

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: This review summarizes the recent advances in understanding the adaptive evolution of metabolic genes and traits, providing insights into gene-diet interactions in human evolution and health.

RECENT FINDINGS: The rapid accumulation of ancient DNA across time and geography illuminates unprecedented details of some well-established examples of genetic adaptation to diet, such as the LCT and FADS genes. Novel cases of thrifty genes were identified, especially a microRNA at the LCT locus that controls energy expenditure and glucose homeostasis, connecting the historical adaptation to present-day metabolic disorders. A new example of gene-diet-microbiota interactions was established among the AMY1 copy number, starchy diets, and resistant-starch-digesting Ruminococcus. The explosion of genome-wide association studies in large cohorts unravels the present-day health implications of historically adaptive genetic variants. It also enables studies into the polygenic adaptation of metabolic traits, revealing intriguing adaptive signals for increased bone mineral density, blood pressure, and risk of type 2 diabetes, but decreased body mass index and HbA1c.

SUMMARY: The rapid accumulation of ancient and modern DNA has fueled the characterization of novel and existing cases of genetic adaptation. However, transferring these evolutionary insights into genome-informed precision nutrition requires extensive mechanistic studies and genotype-aware clinical trials.

RevDate: 2021-07-03

Kuhlwilm M, Fontsere C, Han S, et al (2021)

HuConTest: Testing Human Contamination in Great Ape Samples.

Genome biology and evolution, 13(6):.

Modern human contamination is a common problem in ancient DNA studies. We provide evidence that this issue is also present in studies in great apes, which are our closest living relatives, for example in noninvasive samples. Here, we present a simple method to detect human contamination in short-read sequencing data from different species: HuConTest. We demonstrate its feasibility using blood and tissue samples from these species. This test is particularly useful for more complex samples (such as museum and noninvasive samples) which have smaller amounts of endogenous DNA, as we show here.

RevDate: 2021-06-25
CmpDate: 2021-06-25

Yu X, H Li (2021)

Origin of ethnic groups, linguistic families, and civilizations in China viewed from the Y chromosome.

Molecular genetics and genomics : MGG, 296(4):783-797.

East Asia, geographically extending to the Pamir Plateau in the west, to the Himalayan Mountains in the southwest, to Lake Baikal in the north and to the South China Sea in the south, harbors a variety of people, cultures, and languages. To reconstruct the natural history of East Asians is a mission of multiple disciplines, including genetics, archaeology, linguistics, and ethnology. Geneticists confirm the recent African origin of modern East Asians. Anatomically modern humans arose in Africa and immigrated into East Asia via a southern route approximately 50,000 years ago. Following the end of the Last Glacial Maximum approximately 12,000 years ago, rice and millet were domesticated in the south and north of East Asia, respectively, which allowed human populations to expand and linguistic families and ethnic groups to develop. These Neolithic populations produced a strong relation between the present genetic structures and linguistic families. The expansion of the Hongshan people from northeastern China relocated most of the ethnic populations on a large scale approximately 5300 years ago. Most of the ethnic groups migrated to remote regions, producing genetic structure differences between the edge and center of East Asia. In central China, pronounced population admixture occurred and accelerated over time, which subsequently formed the Han Chinese population and eventually the Chinese civilization. Population migration between the north and the south throughout history has left a smooth gradient in north-south changes in genetic structure. Observation of the process of shaping the genetic structure of East Asians may help in understanding the global natural history of modern humans.

RevDate: 2021-06-17

Straube N, Lyra ML, Paijmans JLA, et al (2021)

Successful application of ancient DNA extraction and library construction protocols to museum wet collection specimens.

Molecular ecology resources [Epub ahead of print].

Millions of scientific specimens are housed in museum collections, a large part of which are fluid preserved. The use of formaldehyde as fixative and subsequent storage in ethanol is especially common in ichthyology and herpetology. This type of preservation damages DNA and reduces the chance of successful retrieval of genetic data. We applied ancient DNA extraction and single stranded library construction protocols to a variety of vertebrate samples obtained from wet collections and of different ages. Our results show that almost all samples tested yielded endogenous DNA. Archival DNA extraction was successful across different tissue types as well as using small amounts of tissue. Conversion of archival DNA fragments into single-stranded libraries resulted in usable data even for samples with initially undetectable DNA amounts. Subsequent target capture approaches for mitochondrial DNA using homemade baits on a subset of 30 samples resulted in almost complete mitochondrial genome sequences in several instances. Thus, application of ancient DNA methodology makes wet collection specimens, including type material as well as rare, old or extinct species, accessible for genetic and genomic analyses. Our results, accompanied by detailed step-by-step protocols, are a large step forward to open the DNA archive of museum wet collections for scientific studies.

RevDate: 2021-05-25

Brooks SA (2021)

Genomics in the Horse Industry: Discovering New Questions at Every Turn.

Journal of equine veterinary science, 100:103456.

The sheer diversity of heritable physiological traits, and the ingenuity of genome derived research technologies, extends the study of genetics to impact diverse scientific fields. Equine science is no exception, experiencing a number of genome-enabled discoveries that spur further research in areas like nutrition, reproduction, and exercise physiology. Yet unexpected findings, especially those that over-turn commonly held beliefs in the horse industry, can create challenges in outreach, education and communication with stakeholders. For example, studies of ancient DNA revealed that the oldest domesticated equids in the archeological record were in fact another species, the Przewalski's horse, leaving the origins of our modern horses a mystery yet to be solved. Genomic analysis of ancestry can illuminate relationships older than our prized pedigree records, and in some cases, identify unexpected inconsistencies in those pedigrees. Even our interpretation of what constitutes a genetic disease is changing, as we re-examine common disease alleles; how these alleles impact equine physiology, and how they are perceived by breeders and professionals in the industry. Effectively translating genetic tools for utilization in horse management and preparing our community for the debate surrounding ethical questions that may arise from genomic studies, may be the next great challenges we face as scientists and educators.

RevDate: 2021-06-04
CmpDate: 2021-06-01

Liu S, Kruse S, Scherler D, et al (2021)

Sedimentary ancient DNA reveals a threat of warming-induced alpine habitat loss to Tibetan Plateau plant diversity.

Nature communications, 12(1):2995.

Studies along elevational gradients worldwide usually find the highest plant taxa richness in mid-elevation forest belts. Hence, an increase in upper elevation diversity is expected in the course of warming-related treeline rise. Here, we use a time-series approach to infer past taxa richness from sedimentary ancient DNA from the south-eastern Tibetan Plateau over the last ~18,000 years. We find the highest total plant taxa richness during the cool phase after glacier retreat when the area contained extensive and diverse alpine habitats (14-10 ka); followed by a decline when forests expanded during the warm early- to mid-Holocene (10-3.6 ka). Livestock grazing since 3.6 ka promoted plant taxa richness only weakly. Based on these inferred dependencies, our simulation yields a substantive decrease in plant taxa richness in response to warming-related alpine habitat loss over the next centuries. Accordingly, efforts of Tibetan biodiversity conservation should include conclusions from palaeoecological evidence.

RevDate: 2021-05-18

Haller M, Callan K, Susat J, et al (2021)

Mass burial genomics reveals outbreak of enteric paratyphoid fever in the Late Medieval trade city Lübeck.

iScience, 24(5):102419.

Medieval Europe was repeatedly affected by outbreaks of infectious diseases, some of which reached epidemic proportions. A Late Medieval mass burial next to the Heiligen-Geist-Hospital in Lübeck (present-day Germany) contained the skeletal remains of more than 800 individuals who had presumably died from infectious disease. From 92 individuals, we screened the ancient DNA extracts for the presence of pathogens to determine the cause of death. Metagenomic analysis revealed evidence of Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Paratyphi C, suggesting an outbreak of enteric paratyphoid fever. Three reconstructed S. Paratyphi C genomes showed close similarity to a strain from Norway (1200 CE). Radiocarbon dates placed the disease outbreak in Lübeck between 1270 and 1400 cal CE, with historical records indicating 1367 CE as the most probable year. The deceased were of northern and eastern European descent, confirming Lübeck as an important trading center of the Hanseatic League in the Baltic region.

RevDate: 2021-06-30

Kerner G, Patin E, L Quintana-Murci (2021)

New insights into human immunity from ancient genomics.

Current opinion in immunology, 72:116-125 pii:S0952-7915(21)00045-5 [Epub ahead of print].

Population genetic studies have clearly indicated that immunity and host defense are among the functions most frequently subject to natural selection, and increased our understanding of the biological relevance of the corresponding genes and their contribution to variable immune traits and diseases. Herein, we will focus on some recently studied forms of human adaptation to infectious agents, including hybridization with now-extinct hominins, such as Neanderthals and Denisovans, and admixture between modern human populations. These studies, which are partly enabled by the technological advances in the sequencing of DNA from ancient remains, provide new insight into the sources of immune response variation in contemporary humans, such as the recently reported link between Neanderthal heritage and susceptibility to severe COVID-19 disease. Furthermore, ancient DNA analyses, in both humans and pathogens, allow to measure the action of natural selection on immune genes across time and to reconstruct the impact of past epidemics on the evolution of human immunity.

RevDate: 2021-05-14

Toussaint EFA, Gauthier J, Bilat J, et al (2021)

HyRAD-X exome capture museomics unravels giant ground beetle evolution.

Genome biology and evolution pii:6275686 [Epub ahead of print].

Advances in phylogenomics contribute towards resolving long-standing evolutionary questions. Notwithstanding, genetic diversity contained within more than a billion biological specimens deposited in natural history museums remains recalcitrant to analysis owing to challenges posed by its intrinsically degraded nature. Yet that tantalizing resource could be critical in overcoming taxon sampling constraints hindering our ability to address major evolutionary questions. We addressed this impediment by developing phyloHyRAD, a new bioinformatic pipeline enabling locus recovery at a broad evolutionary scale from HyRAD-X exome capture of museum specimens of low DNA integrity using a benchtop RAD-derived exome-complexity-reduction probe set developed from high DNA integrity specimens. Our new pipeline can also successfully align raw RNAseq transcriptomic and UCE reads with the RAD-derived probe catalog. Using this method, we generated a robust timetree for Carabinae beetles, the lack of which had precluded study of macroevolutionary trends pertaining to their biogeography and wing-morphology evolution. We successfully recovered up to 2945 loci with a mean of 1788 loci across the exome of specimens of varying age. Coverage was not significantly linked to specimen age, demonstrating the wide exploitability of museum specimens. We also recovered fragmentary mitogenomes compatible with Sanger-sequenced mtDNA. Our phylogenomic timetree revealed a Lower Cretaceous origin for crown group Carabinae, with the extinct Aplothorax nested within the genus Calosoma demonstrating the junior synonymy of Aplothorax syn. nov., resulting in the new combination Calosoma (Ctenosta) burchellii (Waterhouse, 1841) comb. nov. This study compellingly illustrates that HyRAD-X and phyloHyRAD efficiently provide genomic-level datasets informative at deep evolutionary scales.

RevDate: 2021-05-16

Prakash A, M Banerjee (2021)

Genomic selection signatures in autism spectrum disorder identifies cognitive genomic tradeoff and its relevance in paradoxical phenotypes of deficits versus potentialities.

Scientific reports, 11(1):10245.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a heterogeneous neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by paradoxical phenotypes of deficits as well as gain in brain function. To address this a genomic tradeoff hypothesis was tested and followed up with the biological interaction and evolutionary significance of positively selected ASD risk genes. SFARI database was used to retrieve the ASD risk genes while for population datasets 1000 genome data was used. Common risk SNPs were subjected to machine learning as well as independent tests for selection, followed by Bayesian analysis to identify the cumulative effect of selection on risk SNPs. Functional implication of these positively selected risk SNPs was assessed and subjected to ontology analysis, pertaining to their interaction and enrichment of biological and cellular functions. This was followed by comparative analysis with the ancient genomes to identify their evolutionary patterns. Our results identified significant positive selection signals in 18 ASD risk SNPs. Functional and ontology analysis indicate the role of biological and cellular processes associated with various brain functions. The core of the biological interaction network constitutes genes for cognition and learning while genes in the periphery of the network had direct or indirect impact on brain function. Ancient genome analysis identified de novo and conserved evolutionary selection clusters. The de-novo evolutionary cluster represented genes involved in cognitive function. Relative enrichment of the ASD risk SNPs from the respective evolutionary cluster or biological interaction networks may help in addressing the phenotypic diversity in ASD. This cognitive genomic tradeoff signatures impacting the biological networks can explain the paradoxical phenotypes in ASD.

RevDate: 2021-05-25
CmpDate: 2021-05-25

Curry A (2021)

Ancient poop reveals extinction in gut bacteria.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 372(6543):671.

RevDate: 2021-05-26
CmpDate: 2021-05-20

Rey-Iglesia A, Lister AM, Campos PF, et al (2021)

Exploring the phylogeography and population dynamics of the giant deer (Megaloceros giganteus) using Late Quaternary mitogenomes.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 288(1950):20201864.

Late Quaternary climatic fluctuations in the Northern Hemisphere had drastic effects on large mammal species, leading to the extinction of a substantial number of them. The giant deer (Megaloceros giganteus) was one of the species that became extinct in the Holocene, around 7660 calendar years before present. In the Late Pleistocene, the species ranged from western Europe to central Asia. However, during the Holocene, its range contracted to eastern Europe and western Siberia, where the last populations of the species occurred. Here, we generated 35 Late Pleistocene and Holocene giant deer mitogenomes to explore the genetics of the demise of this iconic species. Bayesian phylogenetic analyses of the mitogenomes suggested five main clades for the species: three pre-Last Glacial Maximum clades that did not appear in the post-Last Glacial Maximum genetic pool, and two clades that showed continuity into the Holocene. Our study also identified a decrease in genetic diversity starting in Marine Isotope Stage 3 and accelerating during the Last Glacial Maximum. This reduction in genetic diversity during the Last Glacial Maximum, coupled with a major contraction of fossil occurrences, suggests that climate was a major driver in the dynamics of the giant deer.

RevDate: 2021-05-11

Roesti M (2021)

Evolution: Predictability and the promise of ancient DNA.

Current biology : CB, 31(9):R446-R448.

Is evolution predictable? Genomes from thousands-of-years-old stickleback suggest that, despite substantial stochasticity in the course of evolution, our understanding of the recent evolutionary past of this species was generally valid.

RevDate: 2021-06-23

Saupe T, Montinaro F, Scaggion C, et al (2021)

Ancient genomes reveal structural shifts after the arrival of Steppe-related ancestry in the Italian Peninsula.

Current biology : CB, 31(12):2576-2591.e12.

Across Europe, the genetics of the Chalcolithic/Bronze Age transition is increasingly characterized in terms of an influx of Steppe-related ancestry. The effect of this major shift on the genetic structure of populations in the Italian Peninsula remains underexplored. Here, genome-wide shotgun data for 22 individuals from commingled cave and single burials in Northeastern and Central Italy dated between 3200 and 1500 BCE provide the first genomic characterization of Bronze Age individuals (n = 8; 0.001-1.2× coverage) from the central Italian Peninsula, filling a gap in the literature between 1950 and 1500 BCE. Our study confirms a diversity of ancestry components during the Chalcolithic and the arrival of Steppe-related ancestry in the central Italian Peninsula as early as 1600 BCE, with this ancestry component increasing through time. We detect close patrilineal kinship in the burial patterns of Chalcolithic commingled cave burials and a shift away from this in the Bronze Age (2200-900 BCE) along with lowered runs of homozygosity, which may reflect larger changes in population structure. Finally, we find no evidence that the arrival of Steppe-related ancestry in Central Italy directly led to changes in frequency of 115 phenotypes present in the dataset, rather that the post-Roman Imperial period had a stronger influence, particularly on the frequency of variants associated with protection against Hansen's disease (leprosy). Our study provides a closer look at local dynamics of demography and phenotypic shifts as they occurred as part of a broader phenomenon of widespread admixture during the Chalcolithic/Bronze Age transition.

RevDate: 2021-06-17

Maixner F, Gresky J, A Zink (2021)

Ancient DNA analysis of rare genetic bone disorders.

International journal of paleopathology, 33:182-187.

OBJECTIVE: Review of the current advancements in the field of paleogenetics that provide new opportunities in studying the evolution of rare genetic bone diseases.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: Based on cases from the literature, the genetics of rare bone diseases will be introduced and the main methodological issues will be addressed, focusing on the opportunities presented by the application of aDNA analyses in the field of paleopathology.

RESULTS: Medical literature provides large datasets on the genes responsible for rare bone disorders. These genes, subdivided in functional categories, display important future targets when analyzing rare genetic bone disorders in ancient human remains.

CONCLUSIONS: Knowledge on both phenotype and genotype is required to study rare diseases in ancient human remains.

SIGNIFICANCE: The proposed interdisciplinary research will provide new insight into the occurrence and spread of genetic risk factors in the past and will help in the diagnostics of these rare and often neglected diseases.

LIMITATIONS: The current limitations in ancient DNA research and targeting the disease-causing specific mutations (e.g., somatic or germline).

Methodological advancements and candidate gene lists provide the optimal basis for future interdisciplinary studies of rare genetic bone disorders in ancient human remains.

RevDate: 2021-06-24
CmpDate: 2021-06-24

Gopalan S, Atkinson EG, Buck LT, et al (2021)

Inferring archaic introgression from hominin genetic data.

Evolutionary anthropology, 30(3):199-220.

Questions surrounding the timing, extent, and evolutionary consequences of archaic admixture into human populations have a long history in evolutionary anthropology. More recently, advances in human genetics, particularly in the field of ancient DNA, have shed new light on the question of whether or not Homo sapiens interbred with other hominin groups. By the late 1990s, published genetic work had largely concluded that archaic groups made no lasting genetic contribution to modern humans; less than a decade later, this conclusion was reversed following the successful DNA sequencing of an ancient Neanderthal. This reversal of consensus is noteworthy, but the reasoning behind it is not widely understood across all academic communities. There remains a communication gap between population geneticists and paleoanthropologists. In this review, we endeavor to bridge this gap by outlining how technological advancements, new statistical methods, and notable controversies ultimately led to the current consensus.

RevDate: 2021-05-22

Gros-Balthazard M, Flowers JM, Hazzouri KM, et al (2021)

The genomes of ancient date palms germinated from 2,000 y old seeds.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118(19):.

Seven date palm seeds (Phoenix dactylifera L.), radiocarbon dated from the fourth century BCE to the second century CE, were recovered from archaeological sites in the Southern Levant and germinated to yield viable plants. We conducted whole-genome sequencing of these germinated ancient samples and used single-nucleotide polymorphism data to examine the genetics of these previously extinct Judean date palms. We find that the oldest seeds from the fourth to first century BCE are related to modern West Asian date varieties, but later material from the second century BCE to second century CE showed increasing genetic affinities to present-day North African date palms. Population genomic analysis reveals that by ∼2,400 to 2,000 y ago, the P. dactylifera gene pool in the Eastern Mediterranean already contained introgressed segments from the Cretan palm Phoenix theophrasti, a crucial genetic feature of the modern North African date palm populations. The P. theophrasti introgression fraction content is generally higher in the later samples, while introgression tracts are longer in these ancient germinated date palms compared to modern North African varieties. These results provide insights into crop evolution arising from an analysis of plants originating from ancient germinated seeds and demonstrate what can be accomplished with the application of a resurrection genomics approach.

RevDate: 2021-05-23

Clemente F, Unterländer M, Dolgova O, et al (2021)

The genomic history of the Aegean palatial civilizations.

Cell, 184(10):2565-2586.e21.

The Cycladic, the Minoan, and the Helladic (Mycenaean) cultures define the Bronze Age (BA) of Greece. Urbanism, complex social structures, craft and agricultural specialization, and the earliest forms of writing characterize this iconic period. We sequenced six Early to Middle BA whole genomes, along with 11 mitochondrial genomes, sampled from the three BA cultures of the Aegean Sea. The Early BA (EBA) genomes are homogeneous and derive most of their ancestry from Neolithic Aegeans, contrary to earlier hypotheses that the Neolithic-EBA cultural transition was due to massive population turnover. EBA Aegeans were shaped by relatively small-scale migration from East of the Aegean, as evidenced by the Caucasus-related ancestry also detected in Anatolians. In contrast, Middle BA (MBA) individuals of northern Greece differ from EBA populations in showing ∼50% Pontic-Caspian Steppe-related ancestry, dated at ca. 2,600-2,000 BCE. Such gene flow events during the MBA contributed toward shaping present-day Greek genomes.

RevDate: 2021-05-27

Fontani F, Cilli E, Arena F, et al (2021)

First Bronze Age Human Mitogenomes from Calabria (Grotta Della Monaca, Southern Italy).

Genes, 12(5):.

The Italian peninsula was host to a strong history of migration processes that shaped its genomic variability since prehistoric times. During the Metal Age, Sicily and Southern Italy were the protagonists of intense trade networks and settlements along the Mediterranean. Nonetheless, ancient DNA studies in Southern Italy are, at present, still limited to prehistoric and Roman Apulia. Here, we present the first mitogenomes from a Middle Bronze Age cave burial in Calabria to address this knowledge gap. We adopted a hybridization capture approach, which enabled the recovery of one complete and one partial mitochondrial genome. Phylogenetic analysis assigned these two individuals to the H1e and H5 subhaplogroups, respectively. This preliminary phylogenetic analysis supports affinities with coeval Sicilian populations, along with Linearbandkeramik and Bell Beaker cultures maternal lineages from Central Europe and Iberia. Our work represents a starting point which contributes to the comprehension of migrations and population dynamics in Southern Italy, and highlights this knowledge gap yet to be filled by genomic studies.

RevDate: 2021-05-21

Clyde D (2021)

Bone-free ancient DNA.

Nature reviews. Genetics, 22(6):342.

RevDate: 2021-05-28

Hekkala E, Gatesy J, Narechania A, et al (2021)

Paleogenomics illuminates the evolutionary history of the extinct Holocene "horned" crocodile of Madagascar, Voay robustus.

Communications biology, 4(1):505.

Ancient DNA is transforming our ability to reconstruct historical patterns and mechanisms shaping modern diversity and distributions. In particular, molecular data from extinct Holocene island faunas have revealed surprising biogeographic scenarios. Here, we recovered partial mitochondrial (mt) genomes for 1300-1400 year old specimens (n = 2) of the extinct "horned" crocodile, Voay robustus, collected from Holocene deposits in southwestern Madagascar. Phylogenetic analyses of partial mt genomes and tip-dated timetrees based on molecular, fossil, and stratigraphic data favor a sister group relationship between Voay and Crocodylus (true crocodiles). These well supported trees conflict with recent morphological systematic work that has consistently placed Voay within Osteolaeminae (dwarf crocodiles and kin) and provide evidence for likely homoplasy in crocodylian cranial anatomy and snout shape. The close relationship between Voay and Crocodylus lends additional context for understanding the biogeographic origins of these genera and refines competing hypotheses for the recent extinction of Voay from Madagascar.

RevDate: 2021-06-04
CmpDate: 2021-06-04

Scarsbrook L, Sherratt E, Hitchmough RA, et al (2021)

Skeletal variation in extant species enables systematic identification of New Zealand's large, subfossil diplodactylids.

BMC ecology and evolution, 21(1):67.

New Zealand's diplodactylid geckos exhibit high species-level diversity, largely independent of discernible osteological changes. Consequently, systematic affinities of isolated skeletal elements (fossils) are primarily determined by comparisons of size, particularly in the identification of Hoplodactylus duvaucelii, New Zealand's largest extant gecko species. Here, three-dimensional geometric morphometrics of maxillae (a common fossilized element) was used to determine whether consistent shape and size differences exist between genera, and if cryptic extinctions have occurred in subfossil 'Hoplodactylus cf. duvaucelii'. Sampling included 13 diplodactylid species from five genera, and 11 Holocene subfossil 'H. cf. duvaucelii' individuals. We found phylogenetic history was the most important predictor of maxilla morphology among extant diplodactylid genera. Size comparisons could only differentiate Hoplodactylus from other genera, with the remaining genera exhibiting variable degrees of overlap. Six subfossils were positively identified as H. duvaucelii, confirming their proposed Holocene distribution throughout New Zealand. Conversely, five subfossils showed no clear affinities with any modern diplodactylid genera, implying either increased morphological diversity in mainland 'H. cf. duvaucelii' or the presence of at least one extinct, large, broad-toed diplodactylid species.

RevDate: 2021-04-23

Neukamm J, Peltzer A, K Nieselt (2021)

DamageProfiler: Fast damage pattern calculation for ancient DNA.

Bioinformatics (Oxford, England) pii:6247758 [Epub ahead of print].

MOTIVATION: In ancient DNA research, the authentication of ancient samples based on specific features remains a crucial step in data analysis. Because of this central importance, researchers lacking deeper programming knowledge should be able to run a basic damage authentication analysis. Such software should be user-friendly and easy to integrate into an analysis pipeline.

RESULTS: DamageProfiler is a Java based, stand-alone software to determine damage patterns in ancient DNA. The results are provided in various file formats and plots for further processing. DamageProfiler has an intuitive graphical as well as command line interface that allows the tool to be easily embedded into an analysis pipeline.

AVAILABILITY: All of the source code is freely available on GitHub (https://github.com/Integrative-Transcriptomics/DamageProfiler).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

RevDate: 2021-06-23

Siano R, Lassudrie M, Cuzin P, et al (2021)

Sediment archives reveal irreversible shifts in plankton communities after World War II and agricultural pollution.

Current biology : CB, 31(12):2682-2689.e7.

To evaluate the stability and resilience1 of coastal ecosystem communities to perturbations that occurred during the Anthropocene,2 pre-industrial biodiversity baselines inferred from paleoarchives are needed.3,4 The study of ancient DNA (aDNA) from sediments (sedaDNA)5 has provided valuable information about past dynamics of microbial species6-8 and communities9-18 in relation to ecosystem variations. Shifts in planktonic protist communities might significantly affect marine ecosystems through cascading effects,19-21 and therefore the analysis of this compartment is essential for the assessment of ecosystem variations. Here, sediment cores collected from different sites of the Bay of Brest (northeast Atlantic, France) allowed ca. 1,400 years of retrospective analyses of the effects of human pollution on marine protists. Comparison of sedaDNA extractions and metabarcoding analyses with different barcode regions (V4 and V7 18S rDNA) revealed that protist assemblages in ancient sediments are mainly composed of species known to produce resting stages. Heavy-metal pollution traces in sediments were ascribed to the World War II period and coincided with community shifts within dinoflagellates and stramenopiles. After the war and especially from the 1980s to 1990s, protist genera shifts followed chronic contaminations of agricultural origin. Community composition reconstruction over time showed that there was no recovery to a Middle Ages baseline composition. This demonstrates the irreversibility of the observed shifts after the cumulative effect of war and agricultural pollutions. Developing a paleoecological approach, this study highlights how human contaminations irreversibly affect marine microbial compartments, which contributes to the debate on coastal ecosystem preservation and restoration.

RevDate: 2021-06-15

Alterauge A, Lösch S, Sulzer A, et al (2021)

Beyond simple kinship and identification: aDNA analyses from a 17th-19th century crypt in Germany.

Forensic science international. Genetics, 53:102498.

Ancient DNA (aDNA) analysis is a powerful tool in multidisciplinary research on human remains, potentially leading to kinship scenarios and historical identifications. In this study, we present a genetic investigation of three noble families from the 17th to 19th centuries AD entombed in burial crypts at the cloister church of Riesa (Germany). Tests were aimed at identifying anticipated and incidental genetic relationships in our sample and the implications thereof for the assumed identity of the deceased. A total of 17 individuals were investigated via morphological, radiographic and aDNA analysis, yielding complete and partial autosomal and Y-STR profiles and reliable mtDNA sequences. Biostatistics and lineage markers revealed the presence of first to third degree relationships within the cohort. The pedigrees of the families Hanisch/von Odeleben and von Welck were thereby successfully reproduced, while four previously unknown individuals could be linked to the von Felgenhauer family. However, limitations of biostatistical kinship analysis became evident when the kinship scenario went beyond simple relationships. A combined analysis with archaeological data and historical records resulted in (almost) unambiguous identification of 14 of the 17 individuals.

RevDate: 2021-04-22

Lanman RB, Hylkema L, Boone CM, et al (2021)

Ancient DNA analysis of archaeological specimens extends Chinook salmon's known historic range to San Francisco Bay's tributaries and southernmost watershed.

PloS one, 16(4):e0244470.

Understanding a species' historic range guides contemporary management and habitat restoration. Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) are an important commercial and recreational gamefish, but nine Chinook subspecies are federally threatened or endangered due to anthropogenic impacts. Several San Francisco Bay Area streams and rivers currently host spawning Chinook populations, but government agencies consider these non-native hatchery strays. Through the morphology-based analysis of 17,288 fish specimens excavated from Native American middens at Mission Santa Clara (CA-SCL-30H), Santa Clara County, circa 1781-1834 CE, 88 salmonid vertebrae were identified. Ancient DNA sequencing identified three separate individuals as Chinook salmon and the remainder as steelhead/rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). These findings comprise the first physical evidence of the nativity of salmon to the Guadalupe River in San Jose, California, extending their documented historic range to include San Francisco Bay's southernmost tributary watershed.

RevDate: 2021-06-11
CmpDate: 2021-04-28

Zhang M, Cao P, Dai Q, et al (2021)

Comparative analysis of DNA extraction protocols for ancient soft tissue museum samples.

Zoological research, 42(3):280-286.

DNA studies of endangered or extinct species often rely on ancient or degraded remains. The majority of ancient DNA (aDNA) extraction protocols focus on skeletal elements, with skin and hair samples rarely explored. Similar to that found in bones and teeth, DNA extracted from historical or ancient skin and fur samples is also extremely fragmented with low endogenous content due to natural degradation processes. Thus, the development of effective DNA extraction methods is required for these materials. Here, we compared the performance of two DNA extraction protocols (commercial and custom laboratory aDNA methods) on hair and skin samples from decades-old museum specimens to Iron Age archaeological material. We found that apart from the impact sample-specific taphonomic and handling history has on the quantity and quality of DNA preservation, skin yielded more endogenous DNA than hair of the samples and protocols tested. While both methods recovered DNA from ancient soft tissue, the laboratory method performed better overall in terms of DNA yield and quality, which was primarily due to the poorer performance of the commercial binding buffer in recovering aDNA.

RevDate: 2021-06-15
CmpDate: 2021-06-15

Cascardo P, Pucu E, D Leles (2021)


The Journal of parasitology, 107(2):275-283.

Parasitism is inherent to life and observed in all species. Extinct animals have been studied to understand what they looked like, where and how they lived, what they fed on, and the reasons they became extinct. Paleoparasitology helps to clarify these questions based on the study of the parasites and microorganisms that infected those animals, using as a source material coprolites, fossils in rock, tissue, bone, mummy, and amber, analyses of ancient DNA, immunodiagnosis, and microscopy.

RevDate: 2021-04-09

Oliva A, Tobler R, Cooper A, et al (2021)

Systematic benchmark of ancient DNA read mapping.

Briefings in bioinformatics pii:6217726 [Epub ahead of print].

The current standard practice for assembling individual genomes involves mapping millions of short DNA sequences (also known as DNA 'reads') against a pre-constructed reference genome. Mapping vast amounts of short reads in a timely manner is a computationally challenging task that inevitably produces artefacts, including biases against alleles not found in the reference genome. This reference bias and other mapping artefacts are expected to be exacerbated in ancient DNA (aDNA) studies, which rely on the analysis of low quantities of damaged and very short DNA fragments (~30-80 bp). Nevertheless, the current gold-standard mapping strategies for aDNA studies have effectively remained unchanged for nearly a decade, during which time new software has emerged. In this study, we used simulated aDNA reads from three different human populations to benchmark the performance of 30 distinct mapping strategies implemented across four different read mapping software-BWA-aln, BWA-mem, NovoAlign and Bowtie2-and quantified the impact of reference bias in downstream population genetic analyses. We show that specific NovoAlign, BWA-aln and BWA-mem parameterizations achieve high mapping precision with low levels of reference bias, particularly after filtering out reads with low mapping qualities. However, unbiased NovoAlign results required the use of an IUPAC reference genome. While relevant only to aDNA projects where reference population data are available, the benefit of using an IUPAC reference demonstrates the value of incorporating population genetic information into the aDNA mapping process, echoing recent results based on graph genome representations.

RevDate: 2021-04-10

Taylor WTT, Pruvost M, Posth C, et al (2021)

Evidence for early dispersal of domestic sheep into Central Asia.

Nature human behaviour [Epub ahead of print].

The development and dispersal of agropastoralism transformed the cultural and ecological landscapes of the Old World, but little is known about when or how this process first impacted Central Asia. Here, we present archaeological and biomolecular evidence from Obishir V in southern Kyrgyzstan, establishing the presence of domesticated sheep by ca. 6,000 BCE. Zooarchaeological and collagen peptide mass fingerprinting show exploitation of Ovis and Capra, while cementum analysis of intact teeth implicates possible pastoral slaughter during the fall season. Most significantly, ancient DNA reveals these directly dated specimens as the domestic O. aries, within the genetic diversity of domesticated sheep lineages. Together, these results provide the earliest evidence for the use of livestock in the mountains of the Ferghana Valley, predating previous evidence by 3,000 years and suggesting that domestic animal economies reached the mountains of interior Central Asia far earlier than previously recognized.

RevDate: 2021-04-27
CmpDate: 2021-04-27

Gibbons A (2021)

When modern humans met Neanderthals.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 372(6538):115-116.

RevDate: 2021-05-03

Psonis N, Vassou D, D Kafetzopoulos (2021)

Testing a series of modifications on genomic library preparation methods for ancient or degraded DNA.

Analytical biochemistry, 623:114193.

Technological advancements have revolutionized ancient and degraded DNA analysis, moving the field to the Next Generation Sequencing era. One of the advancements, the ancient DNA-oriented high-throughput library preparation methods, enabled the sequencing of more endogenous molecules. Although fairly optimized, both single- and double-stranded library preparation methods hold the potential for further improvement. Here, we test a series of modifications made at different steps of both single- and double-stranded library preparation methods. Given all the modifications tested, we found that two of them provide further benefits, including the use of Endonuclease VIII as a pre-treatment step before preparing single-stranded libraries and the use of a modified second adapter of the single stranded-libraries as an alternative option to enable sequencing of single stranded-libraries with the standard Illumina sequencing primer instead of the custom designed as described in the single stranded library preparation method. Furthermore, we propose uracil-DNA-glycosylase (UDG) could also be considered for both single- and double-stranded library preparation methods, although additional parameters should be taken into account depending on the sequencing strategy and the sample characteristics. Further modifications were also tested and although they were not advantageous, they could be considered as equivalent to the published options.

RevDate: 2021-04-07

Bendrey R, D Martin (2021)

Zoonotic diseases: New directions in human-animal pathology.

International journal of osteoarchaeology [Epub ahead of print].

Zoonotic diseases-human diseases of animal origin-represent one of the world's greatest health challenges, both today and in the past. Since the Neolithic, zoonotic diseases have been one of the major factors shaping and influencing human adaptation. Archaeology is ideally situated to provide the long view on human-animal-pathogen relationships through combining cultural, environmental and biological datasets, yet long-term studies of linked human and animal records have often been overlooked and undertheorized. The seven papers in this special issue "Zoonotic diseases: New directions in human-animal pathology" cover a range of diseases caused by bacterial, viral, and parasitic pathogens, from case studies drawn from across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. They speak to the diversity of human-animal-environment interactions that shaped disease emergence and transmission. They also review methodological advancements relating to disease identification and interpretation and discuss interdisciplinary approaches to effectively investigate these complex processes in the past. This introduction highlights their key themes and outcomes and identifies research priorities moving forward.

RevDate: 2021-04-05

Geigl EM (2021)

[Discussion about the presentation: "PCR and paleogenetics: for best and for worst"].

Bulletin de l'Academie nationale de medecine, 205(4):420-421.

RevDate: 2021-04-08

Farrer AG, Wright SL, Skelly E, et al (2021)

Effectiveness of decontamination protocols when analyzing ancient DNA preserved in dental calculus.

Scientific reports, 11(1):7456.

Ancient DNA analysis of human oral microbial communities within calcified dental plaque (calculus) has revealed key insights into human health, paleodemography, and cultural behaviors. However, contamination imposes a major concern for paleomicrobiological samples due to their low endogenous DNA content and exposure to environmental sources, calling into question some published results. Decontamination protocols (e.g. an ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) pre-digestion or ultraviolet radiation (UV) and 5% sodium hypochlorite immersion treatments) aim to minimize the exogenous content of the outer surface of ancient calculus samples prior to DNA extraction. While these protocols are widely used, no one has systematically compared them in ancient dental calculus. Here, we compare untreated dental calculus samples to samples from the same site treated with four previously published decontamination protocols: a UV only treatment; a 5% sodium hypochlorite immersion treatment; a pre-digestion in EDTA treatment; and a combined UV irradiation and 5% sodium hypochlorite immersion treatment. We examine their efficacy in ancient oral microbiota recovery by applying 16S rRNA gene amplicon and shotgun sequencing, identifying ancient oral microbiota, as well as soil and skin contaminant species. Overall, the EDTA pre-digestion and a combined UV irradiation and 5% sodium hypochlorite immersion treatment were both effective at reducing the proportion of environmental taxa and increasing oral taxa in comparison to untreated samples. This research highlights the importance of using decontamination procedures during ancient DNA analysis of dental calculus to reduce contaminant DNA.

RevDate: 2021-04-13

Kusliy MA, Vorobieva NV, Tishkin AA, et al (2021)

Traces of Late Bronze and Early Iron Age Mongolian Horse Mitochondrial Lineages in Modern Populations.

Genes, 12(3):.

The Mongolian horse is one of the most ancient and relatively unmanaged horse breeds. The population history of the Mongolian horse remains poorly understood due to a lack of information on ancient and modern DNA. Here, we report nearly complete mitochondrial genome data obtained from five ancient Mongolian horse samples of the Khereksur and Deer Stone culture (late 2nd to 1st third of the 1st millennium BC) and one ancient horse specimen from the Xiongnu culture (1st century BC to 1st century AD) using target enrichment and high-throughput sequencing methods. Phylogenetic analysis involving ancient, historical, and modern mitogenomes of horses from Mongolia and other regions showed the presence of three mitochondrial haplogroups in the ancient Mongolian horse populations studied here and similar haplotype composition of ancient and modern horse populations of Mongolia. Our results revealed genetic continuity between the Mongolian horse populations of the Khereksur and Deer Stone culture and those of the Xiongnu culture owing to the presence of related mitotypes. Besides, we report close phylogenetic relationships between haplotypes of the Khereksur and Deer Stone horses and the horses of indigenous breeds of the Middle East (Caspian and Iranian), China (Naqu, Yunnan, and Jinjiang), and Italy (Giara) as well as genetic similarity between the Xiongnu Mongolian horses and those of the most ancient breeds of the Middle East (Arabian) and Central Asia (Akhal-Teke). Despite all the migrations of the Mongolian peoples over the past 3000 years, mitochondrial haplogroup composition of Mongolian horse populations remains almost unchanged.

RevDate: 2021-04-28

Talas L, Stivrins N, Veski S, et al (2021)

Sedimentary Ancient DNA (sedaDNA) Reveals Fungal Diversity and Environmental Drivers of Community Changes throughout the Holocene in the Present Boreal Lake Lielais Svētiņu (Eastern Latvia).

Microorganisms, 9(4):.

Fungi are ecologically important in several ecosystem processes, yet their community composition, ecophysiological roles, and responses to changing environmental factors in historical sediments are rarely studied. Here we explored ancient fungal DNA from lake Lielais Svētiņu sediment throughout the Holocene (10.5 kyr) using the ITS metabarcoding approach. Our data revealed diverse fungal taxa and smooth community changes during most of the Holocene with rapid changes occurring in the last few millennia. More precisely, plankton parasitic fungi became more diverse from the Late Holocene (2-4 kyr) which could be related to a shift towards a cooler climate. The Latest Holocene (~2 kyr) showed a distinct increase in the richness of plankton parasites, mycorrhizal, and plant pathogenic fungi which can be associated with an increased transfer rate of plant material into the lake and blooms of planktonic organisms influenced by increased, yet moderate, human impact. Thus, major community shifts in plankton parasites and mycorrhizal fungi could be utilized as potential paleo-variables that accompany host-substrate dynamics. Our work demonstrates that fungal aDNA with predicted ecophysiology and host specificity can be employed to reconstruct both aquatic and surrounding terrestrial ecosystems and to estimate the influence of environmental change.

RevDate: 2021-05-28

Lindo J, M DeGiorgio (2021)

Understanding the Adaptive Evolutionary Histories of South American Ancient and Present-Day Populations via Genomics.

Genes, 12(3):.

The South American continent is remarkably diverse in its ecological zones, spanning the Amazon rainforest, the high-altitude Andes, and Tierra del Fuego. Yet the original human populations of the continent successfully inhabited all these zones, well before the buffering effects of modern technology. Therefore, it is likely that the various cultures were successful, in part, due to positive natural selection that allowed them to successfully establish populations for thousands of years. Detecting positive selection in these populations is still in its infancy, as the ongoing effects of European contact have decimated many of these populations and introduced gene flow from outside of the continent. In this review, we explore hypotheses of possible human biological adaptation, methods to identify positive selection, the utilization of ancient DNA, and the integration of modern genomes through the identification of genomic tracts that reflect the ancestry of the first populations of the Americas.

RevDate: 2021-04-05

Aznar-Cormano L, Bonnald J, Krief S, et al (2021)

Molecular sexing of degraded DNA from elephants and mammoths: a genotyping assay relevant both to conservation biology and to paleogenetics.

Scientific reports, 11(1):7227.

It is important to determine the sex of elephants from their samples-faeces from the field or seized ivory-for forensic reasons or to understand population demography and genetic structure. Molecular sexing methods developed in the last two decades have often shown limited efficiency, particularly in terms of sensitivity and specificity, due to the degradation of DNA in these samples. These limitations have also prevented their use with ancient DNA samples of elephants or mammoths. Here we propose a novel TaqMan-MGB qPCR assay to address these difficulties. We designed it specifically to allow the characterization of the genetic sex for highly degraded samples of all elephantine taxa (elephants and mammoths). In vitro experiments demonstrated a high level of sensitivity and low contamination risks. We applied this assay in two actual case studies where it consistently recovered the right genotype for specimens of known sex a priori. In the context of a modern conservation survey of African elephants, it allowed determining the sex for over 99% of fecal samples. In a paleogenetic analysis of woolly mammoths, it produced a robust hypothesis of the sex for over 65% of the specimens out of three PCR replicates. This simple, rapid, and cost-effective procedure makes it readily applicable to large sample sizes.

RevDate: 2021-05-23

Yair S, Lee KM, G Coop (2021)

The timing of human adaptation from Neanderthal introgression.

Genetics, 218(1):.

Admixture has the potential to facilitate adaptation by providing alleles that are immediately adaptive in a new environment or by simply increasing the long-term reservoir of genetic diversity for future adaptation. A growing number of cases of adaptive introgression are being identified in species across the tree of life, however the timing of selection, and therefore the importance of the different evolutionary roles of admixture, is typically unknown. Here, we investigate the spatio-temporal history of selection favoring Neanderthal-introgressed alleles in modern human populations. Using both ancient and present-day samples of modern humans, we integrate the known demographic history of populations, namely population divergence and migration, with tests for selection. We model how a sweep placed along different branches of an admixture graph acts to modify the variance and covariance in neutral allele frequencies among populations at linked loci. Using a method based on this model of allele frequencies, we study previously identified cases of adaptive Neanderthal introgression. From these, we identify cases in which Neanderthal-introgressed alleles were quickly beneficial and other cases in which they persisted at low frequency for some time. For some of the alleles that persisted at low frequency, we show that selection likely independently favored them later on in geographically separated populations. Our work highlights how admixture with ancient hominins has contributed to modern human adaptation and contextualizes observed levels of Neanderthal ancestry in present-day and ancient samples.

RevDate: 2021-06-09

Tagore D, Aghakhanian F, Naidu R, et al (2021)

Insights into the demographic history of Asia from common ancestry and admixture in the genomic landscape of present-day Austroasiatic speakers.

BMC biology, 19(1):61.

BACKGROUND: The demographic history of South and Southeast Asia (S&SEA) is complex and contentious, with multiple waves of human migration. Some of the earliest footfalls were of the ancestors of modern Austroasiatic (AA) language speakers. Understanding the history of the AA language family, comprising of over 150 languages and their speakers distributed across broad geographical region in isolated small populations of various sizes, can help shed light on the peopling of S&SEA. Here we investigated the genetic relatedness of two AA groups, their relationship with other ethno-linguistically distinct populations, and the relationship of these groups with ancient genomes of individuals living in S&SEA at different time periods, to infer about the demographic history of this region.

RESULTS: We analyzed 1451 extant genomes, 189 AAs from India and Malaysia, and 43 ancient genomes from S&SEA. Population structure analysis reveals neither language nor geography appropriately correlates with genetic diversity. The inconsistency between "language and genetics" or "geography and genetics" can largely be attributed to ancient admixture with East Asian populations. We estimated a pre-Neolithic origin of AA language speakers, with shared ancestry between Indian and Malaysian populations until about 470 generations ago, contesting the existing model of Neolithic expansion of the AA culture. We observed a spatio-temporal transition in the genetic ancestry of SEA with genetic contribution from East Asia significantly increasing in the post-Neolithic period.

CONCLUSION: Our study shows that contrary to assumptions in many previous studies and despite having linguistic commonality, Indian AAs have a distinct genomic structure compared to Malaysian AAs. This linguistic-genetic discordance is reflective of the complex history of population migration and admixture shaping the genomic landscape of S&SEA. We postulate that pre-Neolithic ancestors of today's AAs were widespread in S&SEA, and the fragmentation and dissipation of the population have largely been a resultant of multiple migrations of East Asian farmers during the Neolithic period. It also highlights the resilience of AAs in continuing to speak their language in spite of checkered population distribution and possible dominance from other linguistic groups.

RevDate: 2021-03-30

Fellows Yates JA, Lamnidis TC, Borry M, et al (2021)

Reproducible, portable, and efficient ancient genome reconstruction with nf-core/eager.

PeerJ, 9:e10947.

The broadening utilisation of ancient DNA to address archaeological, palaeontological, and biological questions is resulting in a rising diversity in the size of laboratories and scale of analyses being performed. In the context of this heterogeneous landscape, we present an advanced, and entirely redesigned and extended version of the EAGER pipeline for the analysis of ancient genomic data. This Nextflow pipeline aims to address three main themes: accessibility and adaptability to different computing configurations, reproducibility to ensure robust analytical standards, and updating the pipeline to the latest routine ancient genomic practices. The new version of EAGER has been developed within the nf-core initiative to ensure high-quality software development and maintenance support; contributing to a long-term life-cycle for the pipeline. nf-core/eager will assist in ensuring that a wider range of ancient DNA analyses can be applied by a diverse range of research groups and fields.

RevDate: 2021-05-22

Harney É, Patterson N, Reich D, et al (2021)

Assessing the performance of qpAdm: a statistical tool for studying population admixture.

Genetics, 217(4):.

qpAdm is a statistical tool for studying the ancestry of populations with histories that involve admixture between two or more source populations. Using qpAdm, it is possible to identify plausible models of admixture that fit the population history of a group of interest and to calculate the relative proportion of ancestry that can be ascribed to each source population in the model. Although qpAdm is widely used in studies of population history of human (and nonhuman) groups, relatively little has been done to assess its performance. We performed a simulation study to assess the behavior of qpAdm under various scenarios in order to identify areas of potential weakness and establish recommended best practices for use. We find that qpAdm is a robust tool that yields accurate results in many cases, including when data coverage is low, there are high rates of missing data or ancient DNA damage, or when diploid calls cannot be made. However, we caution against co-analyzing ancient and present-day data, the inclusion of an extremely large number of reference populations in a single model, and analyzing population histories involving extended periods of gene flow. We provide a user guide suggesting best practices for the use of qpAdm.

RevDate: 2021-05-28

Kapp JD, Green RE, B Shapiro (2021)

A Fast and Efficient Single-stranded Genomic Library Preparation Method Optimized for Ancient DNA.

The Journal of heredity, 112(3):241-249.

We present a protocol to prepare extracted DNA for sequencing on the Illumina sequencing platform that has been optimized for ancient and degraded DNA. Our approach, the Santa Cruz Reaction or SCR, uses directional splinted ligation of Illumina's P5 and P7 adapters to convert natively single-stranded DNA and heat denatured double-stranded DNA into sequencing libraries in a single enzymatic reaction. To demonstrate its efficacy in converting degraded DNA molecules, we prepare 5 ancient DNA extracts into sequencing libraries using the SCR and 2 of the most commonly used approaches for preparing degraded DNA for sequencing: BEST, which targets and converts double-stranded DNA, and ssDNA2.0, which targets and converts single-stranded DNA. We then compare the efficiency with which each approach recovers unique molecules, or library complexity, given a standard amount of DNA input. We find that the SCR consistently outperforms the BEST protocol in recovering unique molecules and, despite its relative simplicity to perform and low cost per library, has similar performance to ssDNA2.0 across a wide range of DNA inputs. The SCR is a cost- and time-efficient approach that minimizes the loss of unique molecules and makes accessible a taxonomically, geographically, and a temporally broader sample of preserved remains for genomic analysis.

RevDate: 2021-03-30

Modi A, Vergata C, Zilli C, et al (2021)

Successful extraction of insect DNA from recent copal inclusions: limits and perspectives.

Scientific reports, 11(1):6851.

Insects entombed in copal, the sub-fossilized resin precursor of amber, represent a potential source of genetic data for extinct and extant, but endangered or elusive, species. Despite several studies demonstrated that it is not possible to recover endogenous DNA from insect inclusions, the preservation of biomolecules in fossilized resins samples is still under debate. In this study, we tested the possibility of obtaining endogenous ancient DNA (aDNA) molecules from insects preserved in copal, applying experimental protocols specifically designed for aDNA recovery. We were able to extract endogenous DNA molecules from one of the two samples analyzed, and to identify the taxonomic status of the specimen. Even if the sample was found well protected from external contaminants, the recovered DNA was low concentrated and extremely degraded, compared to the sample age. We conclude that it is possible to obtain genomic data from resin-entombed organisms, although we discourage aDNA analysis because of the destructive method of extraction protocols and the non-reproducibility of the results.

RevDate: 2021-05-19
CmpDate: 2021-05-19

Teixeira JC, Jacobs GS, Stringer C, et al (2021)

Widespread Denisovan ancestry in Island Southeast Asia but no evidence of substantial super-archaic hominin admixture.

Nature ecology & evolution, 5(5):616-624.

The hominin fossil record of Island Southeast Asia (ISEA) indicates that at least two endemic 'super-archaic' species-Homo luzonensis and H. floresiensis-were present around the time anatomically modern humans arrived in the region >50,000 years ago. Intriguingly, contemporary human populations across ISEA carry distinct genomic traces of ancient interbreeding events with Denisovans-a separate hominin lineage that currently lacks a fossil record in ISEA. To query this apparent disparity between fossil and genetic evidence, we performed a comprehensive search for super-archaic introgression in >400 modern human genomes, including >200 from ISEA. Our results corroborate widespread Denisovan ancestry in ISEA populations, but fail to detect any substantial super-archaic admixture signals compatible with the endemic fossil record of ISEA. We discuss the implications of our findings for the understanding of hominin history in ISEA, including future research directions that might help to unlock more details about the prehistory of the enigmatic Denisovans.

RevDate: 2021-03-19

Waglechner N, Culp EJ, GD Wright (2021)

Ancient Antibiotics, Ancient Resistance.

EcoSal Plus, 9(2):.

As the spread of antibiotic resistance threatens our ability to treat infections, avoiding the return of a preantibiotic era requires the discovery of new drugs. While therapeutic use of antibiotics followed by the inevitable selection of resistance is a modern phenomenon, these molecules and the genetic determinants of resistance were in use by environmental microbes long before humans discovered them. In this review, we discuss evidence that antibiotics and resistance were present in the environment before anthropogenic use, describing techniques including direct sampling of ancient DNA and phylogenetic analyses that are used to reconstruct the past. We also pay special attention to the ecological and evolutionary forces that have shaped the natural history of antibiotic biosynthesis, including a discussion of competitive versus signaling roles for antibiotics, proto-resistance, and substrate promiscuity of biosynthetic and resistance enzymes. Finally, by applying an evolutionary lens, we describe concepts governing the origins and evolution of biosynthetic gene clusters and cluster-associated resistance determinants. These insights into microbes' use of antibiotics in nature, a game they have been playing for millennia, can provide inspiration for discovery technologies and management strategies to combat the growing resistance crisis.

RevDate: 2021-05-19
CmpDate: 2021-04-26

Oswald JA, Terrill RS, Stucky BJ, et al (2021)

Ancient DNA from the extinct Haitian cave-rail (Nesotrochis steganinos) suggests a biogeographic connection between the Caribbean and Old World.

Biology letters, 17(3):20200760.

Worldwide decline in biodiversity during the Holocene has impeded a comprehensive understanding of pre-human biodiversity and biogeography. This is especially true on islands, because many recently extinct island taxa were morphologically unique, complicating assessment of their evolutionary relationships using morphology alone. The Caribbean remains an avian hotspot but was more diverse before human arrival in the Holocene. Among the recently extinct lineages is the enigmatic genus Nesotrochis, comprising three flightless species. Based on morphology, Nesotrochis has been considered an aberrant rail (Rallidae) or related to flufftails (Sarothruridae). We recovered a nearly complete mitochondrial genome of Nesotrochis steganinos from fossils, discovering that it is not a rallid but instead is sister to Sarothruridae, volant birds now restricted to Africa and New Guinea, and the recently extinct, flightless Aptornithidae of New Zealand. This result suggests a widespread or highly dispersive most recent common ancestor of the group. Prior to human settlement, the Caribbean avifauna had a far more cosmopolitan origin than is evident from extant species.

RevDate: 2021-04-16

Diaz-Maroto P, Rey-Iglesia A, Cartajena I, et al (2021)

Ancient DNA reveals the lost domestication history of South American camelids in Northern Chile and across the Andes.

eLife, 10:.

The study of South American camelids and their domestication is a highly debated topic in zooarchaeology. Identifying the domestic species (alpaca and llama) in archaeological sites based solely on morphological data is challenging due to their similarity with respect to their wild ancestors. Using genetic methods also presents challenges due to the hybridization history of the domestic species, which are thought to have extensively hybridized following the Spanish conquest of South America that resulted in camelids slaughtered en masse. In this study, we generated mitochondrial genomes for 61 ancient South American camelids dated between 3,500 and 2,400 years before the present (Early Formative period) from two archaeological sites in Northern Chile (Tulán-54 and Tulán-85), as well as 66 modern camelid mitogenomes and 815 modern mitochondrial control region sequences from across South America. In addition, we performed osteometric analyses to differentiate big and small body size camelids. A comparative analysis of these data suggests that a substantial proportion of the ancient vicuña genetic variation has been lost since the Early Formative period, as it is not present in modern specimens. Moreover, we propose a domestication hypothesis that includes an ancient guanaco population that no longer exists. Finally, we find evidence that interbreeding practices were widespread during the domestication process by the early camelid herders in the Atacama during the Early Formative period and predating the Spanish conquest.

RevDate: 2021-04-14

Crump SE, Fréchette B, Power M, et al (2021)

Ancient plant DNA reveals High Arctic greening during the Last Interglacial.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118(13):.

Summer warming is driving a greening trend across the Arctic, with the potential for large-scale amplification of climate change due to vegetation-related feedbacks [Pearson et al., Nat. Clim. Chang. (3), 673-677 (2013)]. Because observational records are sparse and temporally limited, past episodes of Arctic warming can help elucidate the magnitude of vegetation response to temperature change. The Last Interglacial ([LIG], 129,000 to 116,000 y ago) was the most recent episode of Arctic warming on par with predicted 21st century temperature change [Otto-Bliesner et al., Philos. Trans. A Math. Phys. Eng. Sci. (371), 20130097 (2013) and Post et al., Sci Adv (5), eaaw9883 (2019)]. However, high-latitude terrestrial records from this period are rare, so LIG vegetation distributions are incompletely known. Pollen-based vegetation reconstructions can be biased by long-distance pollen transport, further obscuring the paleoenvironmental record. Here, we present a LIG vegetation record based on ancient DNA in lake sediment and compare it with fossil pollen. Comprehensive plant community reconstructions through the last and current interglacial (the Holocene) on Baffin Island, Arctic Canada, reveal coherent climate-driven community shifts across both interglacials. Peak LIG warmth featured a ∼400-km northward range shift of dwarf birch, a key woody shrub that is again expanding northward. Greening of the High Arctic-documented here by multiple proxies-likely represented a strong positive feedback on high-latitude LIG warming. Authenticated ancient DNA from this lake sediment also extends the useful preservation window for the technique and highlights the utility of combining traditional and molecular approaches for gleaning paleoenvironmental insights to better anticipate a warmer future.

RevDate: 2021-04-19
CmpDate: 2021-04-19

Oliver-Guimerá A, Hejtmánková A, Jackson K, et al (2021)

A polyomavirus detected in American black bear (Ursus americanus).

Archives of virology, 166(5):1521-1524.

Polyomaviruses are ancient DNA viruses that infect several species of animals. While recognition of the family Polyomaviridae has grown rapidly, there are few studies that consider their potential association with disease. Carnivora are a diverse and widespread order affected by polyomaviruses (PyVs) that have co-evolved with their hosts for millions of years. PyVs have been identified in sea lions, raccoons, badgers, Weddell seals, and dogs. We have discovered a polyomavirus, tentatively named "Ursus americanus polyomavirus 1" (UaPyV1) in black bears (Ursus americanus). UaPyV1 was detectable in various tissues of six out of seven bears submitted for necropsy. Based on viral phylogenetic clustering and detection of the virus in multiple individuals, we suggest that black bears are the natural hosts for UaPyV1. In this albeit small group, there is no clear relationship between UaPyV1 infection and any specific disease.

RevDate: 2021-03-16

Meucci S, Schulte L, Zimmermann HH, et al (2021)

Holocene chloroplast genetic variation of shrubs (Alnus alnobetula, Betula nana, Salix sp.) at the siberian tundra-taiga ecotone inferred from modern chloroplast genome assembly and sedimentary ancient DNA analyses.

Ecology and evolution, 11(5):2173-2193.

Climate warming alters plant composition and population dynamics of arctic ecosystems. In particular, an increase in relative abundance and cover of deciduous shrub species (shrubification) has been recorded. We inferred genetic variation of common shrub species (Alnus alnobetula, Betula nana, Salix sp.) through time. Chloroplast genomes were assembled from modern plants (n = 15) from the Siberian forest-tundra ecotone. Sedimentary ancient DNA (sedaDNA; n = 4) was retrieved from a lake on the southern Taymyr Peninsula and analyzed by metagenomics shotgun sequencing and a hybridization capture approach. For A. alnobetula, analyses of modern DNA showed low intraspecies genetic variability and a clear geographical structure in haplotype distribution. In contrast, B. nana showed high intraspecies genetic diversity and weak geographical structure. Analyses of sedaDNA revealed a decreasing relative abundance of Alnus since 5,400 cal yr BP, whereas Betula and Salix increased. A comparison between genetic variations identified in modern DNA and sedaDNA showed that Alnus variants were maintained over the last 6,700 years in the Taymyr region. In accordance with modern individuals, the variants retrieved from Betula and Salix sedaDNA showed higher genetic diversity. The success of the hybridization capture in retrieving diverged sequences demonstrates the high potential for future studies of plant biodiversity as well as specific genetic variation on ancient DNA from lake sediments. Overall, our results suggest that shrubification has species-specific trajectories. The low genetic diversity in A. alnobetula suggests a local population recruitment and growth response of the already present communities, whereas the higher genetic variability and lack of geographical structure in B. nana may indicate a recruitment from different populations due to more efficient seed dispersal, increasing the genetic connectivity over long distances.

RevDate: 2021-03-16

Seersholm FV, Hansen KL, Heydenrych M, et al (2021)

Ancient DNA preserved in small bone fragments from the P.W. Lund collection.

Ecology and evolution, 11(5):2064-2071.

The Lund collection is one of the oldest subfossil collections in the world. The vast assemblage of subfossils was collected in the 1830s and 1840s by Peter Wilhelm Lund in Lagoa Santa, Brazil, and was shipped to Copenhagen in 1848, where it was stored in various locations around the city with little attention for the future preservation of the collection. So far, successful genetic research on the material collected by Lund has been limited to two samples of human petrous bone. However, less is known about the preservation conditions of the vast amounts of small and fragmentary bones stored in the collection. To address this, we studied ancient DNA from bulk bone samples of approximately 100 bone fragments from the P.W. Lund collection from boxes with varying degrees of physical preservation conditions. Using bulk bone metabarcoding, we found a high species diversity in all samples. In total, we identified 17 species, representing 11 mammals, two birds, one fish, and three frogs. Of these, two species are new to the collection. Collectively, these results exhibit the potential of future genetic studies on the famous P.W. Lund collection and suggest that the effects of poor storage conditions are probably negligible compared with the long-term in situ degradation that specimens undergo before excavation.

RevDate: 2021-05-12

Kirch M, Romundset A, Gilbert MTP, et al (2021)

Ancient and modern stickleback genomes reveal the demographic constraints on adaptation.

Current biology : CB, 31(9):2027-2036.e8.

Adaptation is typically studied by comparing modern populations with contrasting environments. Individuals persisting in the ancestral habitat are typically used to represent the ancestral founding population; however, it has been questioned whether these individuals are good proxies for the actual ancestors.1 To address this, we applied a paleogenomics approach2 to directly access the ancestral genepool: partially sequencing the genomes of two 11- to 13,000-year-old stickleback recovered from the transitionary layer between marine and freshwater sediments of two Norwegian isolation lakes3 and comparing them with 30 modern stickleback genomes from the same lakes and adjacent marine fjord, in addition to a global dataset of 20 genomes.4 The ancient stickleback shared genome-wide ancestry with the modern fjord population, whereas modern lake populations have lost substantial ancestral variation following founder effects, and subsequent drift and selection. Freshwater-adaptive alleles found in one ancient stickleback genome have not risen to high frequency in the present-day population from the same lake. Comparison to the global dataset suggested incomplete adaptation to freshwater in our modern lake populations. Our findings reveal the impact of population bottlenecks in constraining adaptation due to reduced efficacy of selection on standing variation present in founder populations.


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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E-mail: RJR8222@gmail.com

Collection of publications by R J Robbins

Reprints and preprints of publications, slide presentations, instructional materials, and data compilations written or prepared by Robert Robbins. Most papers deal with computational biology, genome informatics, using information technology to support biomedical research, and related matters.

Research Gate page for R J Robbins

ResearchGate is a social networking site for scientists and researchers to share papers, ask and answer questions, and find collaborators. According to a study by Nature and an article in Times Higher Education , it is the largest academic social network in terms of active users.

Curriculum Vitae for R J Robbins

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Curriculum Vitae for R J Robbins

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RJR Picks from Around the Web (updated 11 MAY 2018 )