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22 Apr 2024 at 01:51
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Bibliography on: Paleontology Meets Genomics — Sequencing Ancient DNA


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RJR: Recommended Bibliography 22 Apr 2024 at 01:51 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: 2024-04-20

Zhu S, Chen Z, Hu S, et al (2024)

Corrigendum to "Ancient DNA traces a Chinese 5400-year-old cat specimen as leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis)" [Journal of Genetics and Genomics (2022) 49, 1076-1079].

Journal of genetics and genomics = Yi chuan xue bao, 51(4):466.

RevDate: 2024-04-19

Lin Q, Zhang K, Giguet-Covex C, et al (2024)

Transient social-ecological dynamics reveal signals of decoupling in a highly disturbed Anthropocene landscape.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 121(17):e2321303121.

Understanding the transient dynamics of interlinked social-ecological systems (SES) is imperative for assessing sustainability in the Anthropocene. However, how to identify critical transitions in real-world SES remains a formidable challenge. In this study, we present an evolutionary framework to characterize these dynamics over an extended historical timeline. Our approach leverages multidecadal rates of change in socioeconomic data, paleoenvironmental, and cutting-edge sedimentary ancient DNA records from China's Yangtze River Delta, one of the most densely populated and intensively modified landscapes on Earth. Our analysis reveals two significant social-ecological transitions characterized by contrasting interactions and feedback spanning several centuries. Initially, the regional SES exhibited a loosely connected and ecologically sustainable regime. Nevertheless, starting in the 1950s, an increasingly interconnected regime emerged, ultimately resulting in the crossing of tipping points and an unprecedented acceleration in soil erosion, water eutrophication, and ecosystem degradation. Remarkably, the second transition occurring around the 2000s, featured a notable decoupling of socioeconomic development from ecoenvironmental degradation. This decoupling phenomenon signifies a more desirable reconfiguration of the regional SES, furnishing essential insights not only for the Yangtze River Basin but also for regions worldwide grappling with similar sustainability challenges. Our extensive multidecadal empirical investigation underscores the value of coevolutionary approaches in understanding and addressing social-ecological system dynamics.

RevDate: 2024-04-18

Sun Z, Pan L, Tian A, et al (2024)

Critically-ill COVID-19 susceptibility gene CCR3 shows natural selection in sub-Saharan Africans.

Infection, genetics and evolution : journal of molecular epidemiology and evolutionary genetics in infectious diseases pii:S1567-1348(24)00045-5 [Epub ahead of print].

The prevalence of COVID-19 critical illness varies across ethnicities, with recent studies suggesting that genetic factors may contribute to this variation. The aim of this study was to investigate natural selection signals of genes associated with critically-ill COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africans. Severe COVID-19 SNPs were obtained from the HGI website. Selection signals were assessed in 661 sub-Sahara Africans from 1000 Genomes Project using integrated haplotype score (iHS), cross-population extended haplotype homozygosity (XP-EHH), and fixation index (Fst). Allele frequency trajectory analysis of ancient DNA samples were used to validate the existing of selection in sub-Sahara Africans. We also used Mendelian randomization to decipher the correlation between natural selection and critically-ill COVID-19. We identified that CCR3 exhibited significant natural selection signals in sub-Sahara Africans. Within the CCR3 gene, rs17217831-A showed both high iHS (Standardized iHS = 2) and high XP-EHH (Standardized XP-EHH = 2.5) in sub-Sahara Africans. Allele frequency trajectory of CCR3 rs17217831-A revealed natural selection occurring in the recent 1,500 years. Natural selection resulted in increased CCR3 expression in sub-Sahara Africans. Mendelian Randomization provided evidence that increased blood CCR3 expression and eosinophil counts lowered the risk of critically ill COVID-19. Our findings suggest that sub-Saharan Africans are resistant to critically ill COVID-19 due to natural selection and identify CCR3 as a potential novel therapeutic target.

RevDate: 2024-04-16

Ghimire P, Palacios C, Trimble J, et al (2024)

Museum Genomics approach to study the taxonomy and evolution of Woolly-necked storks using historic specimens.

G3 (Bethesda, Md.) pii:7646797 [Epub ahead of print].

The accessibility of genomic tools in evolutionary biology has allowed for a thorough exploration of various evolutionary processes associated with adaptation and speciation. However, genomic studies in natural systems present numerous challenges, reflecting the inherent complexities of studying organisms in their native habitats. The utilization of museum specimens for genomics research has received increased attention in recent times, facilitated by advancements in ancient DNA techniques. In this study, we have utilized a museum genomics approach to analyze historic specimens of Woolly-necked storks (Ciconia sps.) and examine their genetic composition, taxonomic status, and explore the evolutionary and adaptive trajectories of populations over the years. The Woolly-necked storks are distributed in Asia and Africa with a taxonomic classification that has been a matter of ambiguity. Asian and African Woollynecks were recently recognized as different species based on their morphological differences, however, their genomic validation was lacking. In this study, we have used ∼70-year-old museum samples for whole-genome population-scale sequencing. Our study has revealed that Asian and African Woollyneck are genetically distinct, consistent with the current taxonomic classification based on morphological features. However, we also found a high genetic divergence between the Asian sub-species C. e. neglecta and C. e. episcopus suggesting this classification requires a detailed examination to explore processes of ongoing speciation. Because taxonomic classification directly impacts conservation efforts, and there is evidence of declining populations of Asian Woollynecks in Southeast Asia, our results highlight that population-scale studies are urgent to determine the genetic, ecological, and phylogenetic diversity of these birds.

RevDate: 2024-04-16

Meijer H (2024)

Janus faced: The co-evolution of war and peace in the human species.

Evolutionary anthropology [Epub ahead of print].

The human species presents a paradox. No other species possesses the propensity to carry out coalitionary lethal attacks on adult conspecifics coupled with the inclination to establish peaceful relations with genetically unrelated groups. What explains this seemingly contradictory feature? Existing perspectives, the "deep roots" and "shallow roots" of war theses, fail to capture the plasticity of human intergroup behaviors, spanning from peaceful cooperation to warfare. By contrast, this article argues that peace and war have both deep roots, and they co-evolved through an incremental process over several million years. On the one hand, humans inherited the propensity for coalitionary lethal violence from their chimpanzee-like ancestor. Specifically, having first inherited the skills to engage in cooperative hunting, they gradually repurposed such capacity to execute coalitionary killings of adult conspecifics and subsequently enhanced it through technological innovations like the use of weapons. On the other hand, they underwent a process of cumulative cultural evolution and, subsequently, of self-domestication which led to heightened cooperative communication and increased prosocial behavior within and between groups. The combination of these two biocultural evolutionary processes-coupled with feedback loop effects between self-domestication and Pleistocene environmental variability-considerably broadened the human intergroup behavioral repertoire, thereby producing the distinctive combination of conflictual and peaceful intergroup relations that characterizes our species. To substantiate this argument, the article synthesizes and integrates the findings from a variety of disciplines, leveraging evidence from evolutionary anthropology, primatology, archeology, paleo-genetics, and paleo-climatology.

RevDate: 2024-04-15

Zhang J, Li X, Li L, et al (2024)

Y-STR analysis of highly degraded DNA from skeletal remains over 70 years old.

Forensic sciences research, 9(2):owae020.

The goal of the following study is to clarify whether the skeletal remains over 70 years old from missing persons and their alleged relatives shared identical Y-STR loci. Nowadays, advances in ancient DNA extraction techniques and approaches of using multiple different Y-STRs have significantly increased the possibility of obtaining DNA profiles from highly degraded skeletal remains. Given the ages and conditions of the skeletal remains, ancient DNA extraction methods can be used to maximize the probability of DNA recovery. Considering that information about distant relatives is more relevant for long-term missing persons and alleged family members are male, Y-STR loci analysis is considered the most appropriate and informative approach for determining paternal lineage relationship. In this study, Y-STR genotypes obtained from these alleged relatives were identical to each other and to the alleles of missing persons' consensus profiles at more than 22 loci examined, whilst not being found in Y-STR population database from Y-Chromosome STR Haplotype Reference Database. Therefore, Missing Person No.7 and Missing Person No.18 have a patrilineal relationship with reference samples from Family1 and Family2, respectively. In addition, the fact that Y-STR haplotypes obtained from skeletal remains of missing persons and reference samples are not found in the Han Chinese people from East Asian demonstrates its rarity and further supports a paternal lineage relationship amongst them.

RevDate: 2024-04-13

Ferreira RC, Rodrigues CR, Broach JR, et al (2024)

Convergent Mutations and Single Nucleotide Variants in Mitochondrial Genomes of Modern Humans and Neanderthals.

International journal of molecular sciences, 25(7): pii:ijms25073785.

The genetic contributions of Neanderthals to the modern human genome have been evidenced by the comparison of present-day human genomes with paleogenomes. Neanderthal signatures in extant human genomes are attributed to intercrosses between Neanderthals and archaic anatomically modern humans (AMHs). Although Neanderthal signatures are well documented in the nuclear genome, it has been proposed that there is no contribution of Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA to contemporary human genomes. Here we show that modern human mitochondrial genomes contain 66 potential Neanderthal signatures, or Neanderthal single nucleotide variants (N-SNVs), of which 36 lie in coding regions and 7 result in nonsynonymous changes. Seven N-SNVs are associated with traits such as cycling vomiting syndrome, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, and two N-SNVs are associated with intelligence quotient. Based on recombination tests, principal component analysis (PCA) and the complete absence of these N-SNVs in 41 archaic AMH mitogenomes, we conclude that convergent evolution, and not recombination, explains the presence of N-SNVs in present-day human mitogenomes.

RevDate: 2024-04-13

Di Pasquale GM, Stagnati L, Lezzi A, et al (2024)

Morphological and Genetic Characterization of Maize Landraces Adapted to Marginal Hills in North-West Italy.

Plants (Basel, Switzerland), 13(7): pii:plants13071030.

The growing interest in maize landraces over the past two decades has led to the need to characterize the Italian maize germplasm. In Italy, hundreds of maize landraces have been developed, but only a few of them have been genetically characterized, and even fewer are currently employed in agriculture or for breeding purposes. In the present study, 13 maize landraces of the west Emilia-Romagna region were morphologically and genetically characterized. These accessions were sampled in 1954 from three provinces, Modena, Parma, and Piacenza, during the characterization project of Italian maize landraces. The morphological characterization of these 13 accessions was performed according to the UPOV protocol CPVO/TP2/3, examining 34 phenotypic traits. A total of 820 individuals were genotyped with 10 SSR markers. The genetic characterization revealed 74 different alleles, a FST mean value of 0.13, and a Nm mean of 1.73 over all loci. Moreover, AMOVA analysis disclosed a low degree of differentiation among accessions, with only 13% of genetic variability found between populations, supporting PCoA analysis results, where the first two coordinates explained only 16% of variability. Structure analysis, supported by PCoA, showed that only four accessions were clearly distinguished for both K = 4 and 6. Italian landraces can be useful resources to be employed in maize breeding programs for the development of new varieties, adapted to different environmental conditions, in order to increase crop resilience and expand the maize cultivation area.

RevDate: 2024-04-11

Abbona CC, Lebrasseur O, Prevosti FJ, et al (2024)

Patagonian partnerships: the extinct Dusicyon avus and its interaction with prehistoric human communities.

Royal Society open science, 11(4):231835.

The southern Mendoza province, located in the northern region of Patagonia, was inhabited by hunter-gatherer groups until historic times. Previous archaeological studies have reported canid remains among faunal assemblages, which were assumed to be part of the human diet. However, the taxonomic identification and significance of these canids within human groups have raised questions. In this study, we used ancient DNA analysis, morphological examination and stable isotope analysis (δ[13]Ccol and δ[15]N) to re-evaluate the taxonomic assignment of a canid discovered at the Late Holocene burial site of Cañada Seca. Previous morphological identifications suggested that it belonged to the genus Lycalopex, but our results conclusively demonstrate that the individual belongs to the extinct fox species Dusicyon avus. This finding expands Dusicyon avus' known geographical distribution to Patagonia's northern extremity. Furthermore, statistical predictions based on genetic divergence undermine the hypothesis that hybridization between Canis and Dusicyon, facilitated by the introduction of domestic dogs, played a role in the extinction of Dusicyon species. On the other hand, our findings indicate that a Dusicyon avus individual shared a similar diet and was probably buried alongside humans, suggesting a close relationship between the two species during their lives and deaths.

RevDate: 2024-04-08

Mills KK, Hildebrandt KPB, Everson KM, et al (2024)

Ancient DNA indicates a century of overhunting did not reduce genetic diversity in Pacific Walruses (Odobenus rosmarus divergens).

Scientific reports, 14(1):8257.

Pacific Walruses (Odobenus rosmarus divergens [Illiger 1815]) are gregarious marine mammals considered to be sentinels of the Arctic because of their dependence on sea ice for feeding, molting, and parturition. Like many other marine mammal species, their population sizes were decimated by historical overhunting in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Although they have since been protected from nearly all commercial hunting pressure, they now face rapidly accelerating habitat loss as global warming reduces the extent of summer sea ice in the Arctic. To investigate how genetic variation was impacted by overhunting, we obtained mitochondrial DNA sequences from historic Pacific Walrus samples in Alaska that predate the period of overhunting, as well as from extant populations. We found that genetic variation was unchanged over this period, suggesting Pacific Walruses are resilient to genetic attrition in response to reduced population size, and that this may be related to their high vagility and lack of population structure. Although Pacific Walruses will almost certainly continue to decline in number as the planet warms and summer sea ice is further reduced, they may be less susceptible to the ratcheting effects of inbreeding that typically accompany shrinking populations.

RevDate: 2024-04-08

Brack J, Biran M, R Amitai (2024)

Plague and the Mongol conquest of Baghdad (1258)? A reevaluation of the sources.

Medical history pii:S0025727323000388 [Epub ahead of print].

This paper reexamines the sources used by N. Fancy and M.H. Green in "Plague and the Fall of Baghdad (1258)" (Medical History, 65/2 (2021), 157-177). Fancy and Green argued that the Arabic and Persian descriptions of the Mongol sieges in Iran and Iraq, and in particular, in the conquest of Baghdad in 1258, indicate that the besieged fortresses and cities were struck by Plague after the Mongol sieges were lifted. This, they suggested, is part of a recurrent pattern of the outbreak of Plague transmitted by the Mongol expansion across Eurasia. Fancy and Green concluded that the primary sources substantiate the theory driven by recent paleogenetic studies indicating that the Mongol conquests of the thirteenth century set the stage for the massive pandemic of the mid-fourteenth century. The link between the Plague outbreak and the Mongol siege of Baghdad relies on three near-contemporaneous historical accounts. However, our re-examination of the sources shows that the main text (in Persian) has been significantly misunderstood, and that the two other texts (in Syriac and Arabic) have been mis-contextualized, and thus not understood properly. They do not support the authors' claim regarding Plague epidemic in Baghdad in 1258, nor do other contemporary and later Arabic texts from Syria and Egypt adduced by them, which we re-examine in detail here. We conclude that there is no evidence for the appearance of Plague during or immediately after the Mongol conquests in the Middle East, certainly not for its transmission by the Mongols.

RevDate: 2024-04-07

Alsos IG, Boussange V, Rijal DP, et al (2024)

Using ancient sedimentary DNA to forecast ecosystem trajectories under climate change.

Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 379(1902):20230017.

Ecosystem response to climate change is complex. In order to forecast ecosystem dynamics, we need high-quality data on changes in past species abundance that can inform process-based models. Sedimentary ancient DNA (sedaDNA) has revolutionised our ability to document past ecosystems' dynamics. It provides time series of increased taxonomic resolution compared to microfossils (pollen, spores), and can often give species-level information, especially for past vascular plant and mammal abundances. Time series are much richer in information than contemporary spatial distribution information, which have been traditionally used to train models for predicting biodiversity and ecosystem responses to climate change. Here, we outline the potential contribution of sedaDNA to forecast ecosystem changes. We showcase how species-level time series may allow quantification of the effect of biotic interactions in ecosystem dynamics, and be used to estimate dispersal rates when a dense network of sites is available. By combining palaeo-time series, process-based models, and inverse modelling, we can recover the biotic and abiotic processes underlying ecosystem dynamics, which are traditionally very challenging to characterise. Dynamic models informed by sedaDNA can further be used to extrapolate beyond current dynamics and provide robust forecasts of ecosystem responses to future climate change. This article is part of the theme issue 'Ecological novelty and planetary stewardship: biodiversity dynamics in a transforming biosphere'.

RevDate: 2024-04-03

Miles LS, Waterman H, Ayoub NA, et al (2024)

Insight into the adaptive role of arachnid genome-wide duplication through chromosome-level genome assembly of the Western black widow spider.

The Journal of heredity pii:7632606 [Epub ahead of print].

Although spiders are one of the most diverse groups of arthropods, the genetic architecture of their evolutionary adaptations is largely unknown. Specifically, ancient genome-wide duplication occurring during arachnid evolution ~450 mya resulted in a vast assembly of gene families, yet the extent to which selection has shaped this variation is understudied. To aid in comparative genome sequence analyses, we provide a chromosome-level genome of the Western black widow spider (Latrodectus hesperus)-a focus due to its silk properties, venom applications, and as a model for urban adaptation. We used long-read and Hi-C sequencing data, combined with transcriptomes, to assemble 14 chromosomes in a 1.46 Gb genome, with 38,393 genes annotated, and a BUSCO score of 95.3%. Our analyses identified high repetitive gene content and heterozygosity, consistent with other spider genomes, which has led to challenges in genome characterization. Our comparative evolutionary analyses of eight genomes available for species within the Araneoidea group (orb weavers and their descendants) identified 1,827 single-copy orthologs. Of these, 155 exhibit significant positive selection primarily associated with developmental genes, and with traits linked to sensory perception. These results support the hypothesis that several traits unique to spiders emerged from the adaptive evolution of ohnologs-or retained ancestrally duplicated genes-from ancient genome-wide duplication. These comparative spider genome analyses can serve as a model to understand how positive selection continually shapes ancestral duplications in generating novel traits today within and between diverse taxonomic groups.

RevDate: 2024-04-01

Bellini G, Schrieber K, Kirleis W, et al (2024)

Exploring the complex pre-adaptations of invasive plants to anthropogenic disturbance: a call for integration of archaeobotanical approaches.

Frontiers in plant science, 15:1307364.

Pre-adaptation to anthropogenic disturbance is broadly considered key for plant invasion success. Nevertheless, empirical evidence remains scarce and fragmentary, given the multifaceted nature of anthropogenic disturbance itself and the complexity of other evolutionary forces shaping the (epi)-genomes of recent native and invasive plant populations. Here, we review and critically revisit the existing theory and empirical evidence in the field of evolutionary ecology and highlight novel integrative research avenues that work at the interface with archaeology to solve open questions. The approaches suggested so far focus on contemporary plant populations, although their genomes have rapidly changed since their initial introduction in response to numerous selective and stochastic forces. We elaborate that a role of pre-adaptation to anthropogenic disturbance in plant invasion success should thus additionally be validated based on the analyses of archaeobotanical remains. Such materials, in the light of detailed knowledge on past human societies could highlight fine-scale differences in the type and timing of past disturbances. We propose a combination of archaeobotanical, ancient DNA and morphometric analyses of plant macro- and microremains to assess past community composition, and species' functional traits to unravel the timing of adaptation processes, their drivers and their long-term consequences for invasive species. Although such methodologies have proven to be feasible for numerous crop plants, they have not been yet applied to wild invasive species, which opens a wide array of insights into their evolution.

RevDate: 2024-03-29

Du P, Zhu K, Qiao H, et al (2024)

Ancient genome of the Chinese Emperor Wu of Northern Zhou.

Current biology : CB pii:S0960-9822(24)00240-9 [Epub ahead of print].

Emperor Wu (, Wudi) of the Xianbei-led Northern Zhou dynasty, named Yuwen Yong (, 543-578 CE), was a highly influential emperor who reformed the system of regional troops, pacified the Turks, and unified the northern part of the country. His genetic profile and physical characteristics, including his appearance and potential diseases, have garnered significant interest from the academic community and the public. In this study, we have successfully generated a 0.343×-coverage genome of Wudi with 1,011,419 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on the 1240k panel. By analyzing pigmentation-relevant SNPs and conducting cranial CT-based facial reconstruction, we have determined that Wudi possessed a typical East or Northeast Asian appearance. Furthermore, pathogenic SNPs suggest Wudi faced an increased susceptibility to certain diseases, such as stroke. Wudi shared the closest genetic relationship with ancient Khitan and Heishui Mohe samples and modern Daur and Mongolian populations but also showed additional affinity with Yellow River (YR) farmers. We estimated that Wudi derived 61% of his ancestry from ancient Northeast Asians (ANAs) and nearly one-third from YR farmer-related groups. This can likely be attributed to continuous intermarriage between Xianbei royal families, and local Han aristocrats.[1][,][2] Furthermore, our study has revealed genetic diversities among available ancient Xianbei individuals from different regions, suggesting that the formation of the Xianbei was a dynamic process influenced by admixture with surrounding populations.

RevDate: 2024-03-29

Boilard A, Walker SJ, Lødøen TK, et al (2024)

Ancient DNA and osteological analyses of a unique paleo-archive reveal Early Holocene faunal expansion into the Scandinavian Arctic.

Science advances, 10(13):eadk3032.

Paleo-archives are essential for our understanding of species responses to climate warming, yet such archives are extremely rare in the Arctic. Here, we combine morphological analyses and bulk-bone metabarcoding to investigate a unique chronology of bone deposits sealed in the high-latitude Storsteinhola cave system (68°50' N 16°22' E) in Norway. This deposit dates to a period of climate warming from the end of the Late Glacial [~13 thousand calibrated years before the present (ka cal B.P.)] to the Holocene thermal maximum (~5.6 ka cal B.P.). Paleogenetic analyses allow us to exploit the 1000s of morphologically unidentifiable bone fragments resulting in a high-resolution sequence with 40 different taxa, including species not previously found here. Our record reveals borealization in both the marine and terrestrial environments above the Arctic Circle as a naturally recurring phenomenon in past periods of warming, providing fundamental insights into the ecosystem-wide responses that are ongoing today.

RevDate: 2024-03-28

Kumar S, Singh PP, Pasupuleti N, et al (2024)

The genetic admixture and assimilation of Ahom: a historic migrant from Thailand to India.

Human molecular genetics pii:7636144 [Epub ahead of print].

The Northeastern region of India is considered a gateway for modern humans' dispersal throughout Asia. This region is a mixture of various ethnic and indigenous populations amalgamating multiple ancestries. One reason for such amalgamation is that, South Asia experienced multiple historic migrations from various parts of the world. A few examples explored genetically are Jews, Parsis and Siddis. Ahom is a dynasty that historically migrated to India during the 12th century. However, this putative migration has not been studied genetically at high resolution. Therefore, to validate this historical evidence, we genotyped autosomal data of the Modern Ahom population residing in seven sister states of India. Principal Component and Admixture analyses haave suggested a substantial admixture of the Ahom population with the local Tibeto-Burman populations. Moreover, the haplotype-based analysis has linked these Ahom individuals mainly with the Kusunda (a language isolated from Nepal) and Khasi (an Austroasiatic population of Meghalaya). Such unexpected presence of widespread population affinities suggests that Ahom mixed and assimilated a wide variety of Trans-Himalayan populations inhabiting this region after the migration. In summary, we observed a significant deviation of Ahom from their ancestral homeland (Thailand) and extensive admixture and assimilation with the local South Asian populations.

RevDate: 2024-03-27

Jackson I, Woodman P, Dowd M, et al (2024)

Ancient Genomes From Bronze Age Remains Reveal Deep Diversity and Recent Adaptive Episodes for Human Oral Pathobionts.

Molecular biology and evolution, 41(3):.

Ancient microbial genomes can illuminate pathobiont evolution across millenia, with teeth providing a rich substrate. However, the characterization of prehistoric oral pathobiont diversity is limited. In Europe, only preagricultural genomes have been subject to phylogenetic analysis, with none compared to more recent archaeological periods. Here, we report well-preserved microbiomes from two 4,000-year-old teeth from an Irish limestone cave. These contained bacteria implicated in periodontitis, as well as Streptococcus mutans, the major cause of caries and rare in the ancient genomic record. Despite deriving from the same individual, these teeth produced divergent Tannerella forsythia genomes, indicating higher levels of strain diversity in prehistoric populations. We find evidence of microbiome dysbiosis, with a disproportionate quantity of S. mutans sequences relative to other oral streptococci. This high abundance allowed for metagenomic assembly, resulting in its first reported ancient genome. Phylogenetic analysis indicates major postmedieval population expansions for both species, highlighting the inordinate impact of recent dietary changes. In T. forsythia, this expansion is associated with the replacement of older lineages, possibly reflecting a genome-wide selective sweep. Accordingly, we see dramatic changes in T. forsythia's virulence repertoire across this period. S. mutans shows a contrasting pattern, with deeply divergent lineages persisting in modern populations. This may be due to its highly recombining nature, allowing for maintenance of diversity through selective episodes. Nonetheless, an explosion in recent coalescences and significantly shorter branch lengths separating bacteriocin-carrying strains indicate major changes in S. mutans demography and function coinciding with sugar popularization during the industrial period.

RevDate: 2024-03-26

Yaka R, Maja Krzewińska , Lagerholm VK, et al (2024)

Comparison and optimization of protocols and whole-genome capture conditions for ancient DNA samples.

BioTechniques [Epub ahead of print].

Ancient DNA (aDNA) obtained from human remains is typically fragmented and present in relatively low amounts. Here we investigate a set of optimal methods for producing aDNA data by comparing silica-based DNA extraction and aDNA library preparation protocols. We also test the efficiency of whole-genome enrichment (WGC) on ancient human samples by modifying a number of parameter combinations. We find that the Dabney extraction protocol performs significantly better than alternatives. We further observed a positive trend with the BEST library protocol indicating lower clonality. Notably, our results suggest that WGC is effective at retrieving endogenous DNA, particularly from poorly-preserved human samples, by increasing human endogenous proportions by 5x. Thus, aDNA studies will be most likely to benefit from our results.

RevDate: 2024-03-25

Nelder MP, Schats R, Poinar HN, et al (2024)

Pathogen prospecting of museums: Reconstructing malaria epidemiology.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 121(15):e2310859121.

Malaria is a disease of global significance. Ongoing changes to the earth's climate, antimalarial resistance, insecticide resistance, and socioeconomic decline test the resilience of malaria prevention programs. Museum insect specimens present an untapped resource for studying vector-borne pathogens, spurring the question: Do historical mosquito collections contain Plasmodium DNA, and, if so, can museum specimens be used to reconstruct the historical epidemiology of malaria? In this Perspective, we explore molecular techniques practical to pathogen prospecting, which, more broadly, we define as the science of screening entomological museum specimens for human, animal, or plant pathogens. Historical DNA and pathogen prospecting provide a means of describing the coevolution of human, vector, and parasite, informing the development of insecticides, diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.

RevDate: 2024-03-25

Gill H, Lee J, C Jeong (2024)

Reconstructing the genetic relationship between ancient and present-day Siberian populations.

Genome biology and evolution pii:7634480 [Epub ahead of print].

Human populations across a vast area in northern Eurasia, from Fennoscandia to Chukotka, share a distinct genetic component often referred to as the Siberian ancestry. Most enriched in present-day Samoyedic-speaking populations such as Nganasans, its origins and history still remain elusive despite the growing list of ancient and present-day genomes from Siberia. Here we reanalyze published ancient and present-day Siberian genomes focusing on the Baikal and Yakutia, resolving key questions regarding their genetic history. First, we show a long-term presence of a unique genetic profile in southern Siberia, up to 6,000 years ago, which distinctly shares a deep ancestral connection with Native Americans. Second, we provide plausible historical models tracing genetic changes in West Baikal and Yakutia in fine resolution. Third, the Middle Neolithic individual from Yakutia, belonging to the Belkachi culture, serves as the best source so far available for the spread of the Siberian ancestry into Fennoscandia and Greenland. These findings shed light on the genetic legacy of the Siberian ancestry and provide insights into the complex interplay between different populations in northern Eurasia throughout history.

RevDate: 2024-03-22

Pryor AJE, Ameen C, Liddiard R, et al (2024)

Isotopic biographies reveal horse rearing and trading networks in medieval London.

Science advances, 10(12):eadj5782.

This paper reports a high-resolution isotopic study of medieval horse mobility, revealing their origins and in-life mobility both regionally and internationally. The animals were found in an unusual horse cemetery site found within the City of Westminster, London, England. Enamel strontium, oxygen, and carbon isotope analysis of 15 individuals provides information about likely place of birth, diet, and mobility during the first approximately 5 years of life. Results show that at least seven horses originated outside of Britain in relatively cold climates, potentially in Scandinavia or the Western Alps. Ancient DNA sexing data indicate no consistent sex-specific mobility patterning, although three of the five females came from exceptionally highly radiogenic regions. Another female with low mobility is suggested to be a sedentary broodmare. Our results provide direct and unprecedented evidence for a variety of horse movement and trading practices in the Middle Ages and highlight the importance of international trade in securing high-quality horses for medieval London elites.

RevDate: 2024-03-20

Zhang M, Song Y, Wang C, et al (2024)

Ancient mitogenomes reveal the maternal genetic history of East Asian dogs.

Molecular biology and evolution pii:7632646 [Epub ahead of print].

Recent studies have suggested that dogs were domesticated during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) in Siberia, which contrasts with previous proposed domestication centers (e.g., Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia). Ancient DNA provides a powerful resource for the study of mammalian evolution and has been widely used to understand the genetic history of domestic animals. To understand the maternal genetic history of East Asian dogs, we have made a complete mitogenome dataset of 120 East Asian canids from 38 archaeological sites, including 102 newly sequenced from 12.9 to 1 ka BP (1,000 years before present). The majority (112/119, 94.12%) belonged to haplogroup A, and half of these (55/112, 49.11%) belonged to sub-haplogroup A1b. Most existing mitochondrial haplogroups were present in ancient East Asian dogs. However, mitochondrial lineages in ancient northern dogs (northeastern Eurasia and northern East Asia) were deeper and older than those in southern East Asian dogs. Results suggests that East Asian dogs originated from northeastern Eurasian populations after the LGM, dispersing in two possible directions after domestication. Western Eurasian (Europe and the Middle East) dog maternal ancestries genetically influenced East Asian dogs from approximately 4 ka BP, dramatically increasing after 3 ka BP, and afterwards largely replaced most primary maternal lineages in northern East Asia. Additionally, at least three major mitogenome sub-haplogroups of haplogroup A (A1a, A1b, and A3) reveal at least two major dispersal waves onto the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in ancient times, indicating eastern (A1b and A3) and western (A1a) Eurasian origins.

RevDate: 2024-03-18
CmpDate: 2024-03-18

Seeber PA, Batke L, Dvornikov Y, et al (2024)

Mitochondrial genomes of Pleistocene megafauna retrieved from recent sediment layers of two Siberian lakes.

eLife, 12:.

Ancient environmental DNA (aeDNA) from lake sediments has yielded remarkable insights for the reconstruction of past ecosystems, including suggestions of late survival of extinct species. However, translocation and lateral inflow of DNA in sediments can potentially distort the stratigraphic signal of the DNA. Using three different approaches on two short lake sediment cores of the Yamal peninsula, West Siberia, with ages spanning only the past hundreds of years, we detect DNA and identified mitochondrial genomes of multiple mammoth and woolly rhinoceros individuals-both species that have been extinct for thousands of years on the mainland. The occurrence of clearly identifiable aeDNA of extinct Pleistocene megafauna (e.g. >400 K reads in one core) throughout these two short subsurface cores, along with specificities of sedimentology and dating, confirm that processes acting on regional scales, such as extensive permafrost thawing, can influence the aeDNA record and should be accounted for in aeDNA paleoecology.

RevDate: 2024-03-15

Garrido Marques A, Rubinacci S, Malaspinas AS, et al (2024)

Assessing the impact of post-mortem damage and contamination on imputation performance in ancient DNA.

Scientific reports, 14(1):6227.

Low-coverage imputation is becoming ever more present in ancient DNA (aDNA) studies. Imputation pipelines commonly used for present-day genomes have been shown to yield accurate results when applied to ancient genomes. However, post-mortem damage (PMD), in the form of C-to-T substitutions at the reads termini, and contamination with DNA from closely related species can potentially affect imputation performance in aDNA. In this study, we evaluated imputation performance (i) when using a genotype caller designed for aDNA, ATLAS, compared to bcftools, and (ii) when contamination is present. We evaluated imputation performance with principal component analyses and by calculating imputation error rates. With a particular focus on differently imputed sites, we found that using ATLAS prior to imputation substantially improved imputed genotypes for a very damaged ancient genome (42% PMD). Trimming the ends of the sequencing reads led to similar improvements in imputation accuracy. For the remaining genomes, ATLAS brought limited gains. Finally, to examine the effect of contamination on imputation, we added various amounts of reads from two present-day genomes to a previously downsampled high-coverage ancient genome. We observed that imputation accuracy drastically decreased for contamination rates above 5%. In conclusion, we recommend (i) accounting for PMD by either trimming sequencing reads or using a genotype caller such as ATLAS before imputing highly damaged genomes and (ii) only imputing genomes containing up to 5% of contamination.

RevDate: 2024-03-13
CmpDate: 2024-03-13

Smith GM, Ruebens K, Zavala EI, et al (2024)

The ecology, subsistence and diet of ~45,000-year-old Homo sapiens at Ilsenhöhle in Ranis, Germany.

Nature ecology & evolution, 8(3):564-577.

Recent excavations at Ranis (Germany) identified an early dispersal of Homo sapiens into the higher latitudes of Europe by 45,000 years ago. Here we integrate results from zooarchaeology, palaeoproteomics, sediment DNA and stable isotopes to characterize the ecology, subsistence and diet of these early H. sapiens. We assessed all bone remains (n = 1,754) from the 2016-2022 excavations through morphology (n = 1,218) or palaeoproteomics (zooarchaeology by mass spectrometry (n = 536) and species by proteome investigation (n = 212)). Dominant taxa include reindeer, cave bear, woolly rhinoceros and horse, indicating cold climatic conditions. Numerous carnivore modifications, alongside sparse cut-marked and burnt bones, illustrate a predominant use of the site by hibernating cave bears and denning hyaenas, coupled with a fluctuating human presence. Faunal diversity and high carnivore input were further supported by ancient mammalian DNA recovered from 26 sediment samples. Bulk collagen carbon and nitrogen stable isotope data from 52 animal and 10 human remains confirm a cold steppe/tundra setting and indicate a homogenous human diet based on large terrestrial mammals. This lower-density archaeological signature matches other Lincombian-Ranisian-Jerzmanowician sites and is best explained by expedient visits of short duration by small, mobile groups of pioneer H. sapiens.

RevDate: 2024-03-11

Poyraz L, Colbran LL, I Mathieson (2024)

Predicting functional consequences of recent natural selection in Britain.

Molecular biology and evolution pii:7625217 [Epub ahead of print].

Ancient DNA can directly reveal the contribution of natural selection to human genomic variation. However, while the analysis of ancient DNA has been successful at identifying genomic signals of selection, inferring the phenotypic consequences of that selection has been more difficult. Most trait-associated variants are non-coding, so we expect that a large proportion of the phenotypic effects of selection will also act through non-coding variation. Since we cannot measure gene expression directly in ancient individuals, we used an approach (Joint-Tissue Imputation; JTI) developed to predict gene expression from genotype data. We tested for changes in the predicted expression of 17,384 protein coding genes over a time transect of 4500 years using 91 present-day and 616 ancient individuals from Britain. We identified 28 genes at seven genomic loci with significant (FDR < 0.05) changes in predicted expression levels in this time period. We compared the results from our transcriptome-wide scan to a genome-wide scan based on estimating per-SNP selection coefficients from time series data. At five previously identified loci, our approach allowed us to highlight small numbers of genes with evidence for significant shifts in expression from peaks that in some cases span tens of genes. At two novel loci (SLC44A5 and NUP85), we identify selection on gene expression not captured by scans based on genomic signatures of selection. Finally we show how classical selection statistics (iHS and SDS) can be combined with JTI models to incorporate functional information into scans that use present-day data alone. These results demonstrate the potential of this type of information to explore both the causes and consequences of natural selection.

RevDate: 2024-03-11

Jmel H, Sarno S, Giuliani C, et al (2024)

Genetic diversity of variants involved in drug response among Tunisian and Italian populations toward personalized medicine.

Scientific reports, 14(1):5842.

Adverse drug reactions (ADR) represent a significant contributor to morbidity and mortality, imposing a substantial financial burden. Genetic ancestry plays a crucial role in drug response. The aim of this study is to characterize the genetic variability of selected pharmacogenes involved with ADR in Tunisians and Italians, with a comparative analysis against global populations. A cohort of 135 healthy Tunisians and 737 Italians were genotyped using a SNP array. Variants located in 25 Very Important Pharmacogenes implicated in ADR were extracted from the genotyping data. Distribution analysis of common variants in Tunisian and Italian populations in comparison to 24 publicly available worldwide populations was performed using PLINK and R software. Results from Principle Component and ADMIXTURE analyses showed a high genetic similarity among Mediterranean populations, distinguishing them from Sub-Saharan African and Asian populations. The Fst comparative analysis identified 27 variants exhibiting significant differentiation between the studied populations. Among these variants, four SNPs rs622342, rs3846662, rs7294, rs5215 located in SLC22A1, HMGCR, VKORC1 and KCNJ11 genes respectively, are reported to be associated with ethnic variability in drug responses. In conclusion, correlating the frequencies of genotype risk variants with their associated ADRs would enhance drug outcomes and the implementation of personalized medicine in the studied populations.

RevDate: 2024-03-10

Ahlawat B, Kumar L, Ambekar A, et al (2024)

Ancient mitogenomes suggest complex maternal history of one of the oldest settlements of western India.

Mitochondrion pii:S1567-7249(24)00029-1 [Epub ahead of print].

The ancient township of Vadnagar tells a story of a long chain of cultural diversity and exchange. Vadnagar has been continuously habituated and shows a presence of rich cultural amalgamation and continuous momentary sequences between the 2th century BCE and present-day. Seven cultural periods developed a complex and enriched settlement at Vadnagar in spatio-temporality. Although archaeological studies done on this oldest settlement suggested a rich cultural heritage, the genetic studies to pinpoint the genetic ancestry was lacking till date. In our current study we have for the first time reconstructed the complete mitogenomes of medieval individuals of the Vadnagar archaeological site in Gujarat. The study aimed to investigate the cosmopolitan nature of the present population as well as the migratory pattern and the inflow of different groups through trade, cultural and religious practices. Our analysis suggests heterogeneous nature of the medieval population of Vadnagar with presence of deeply rooted local ancestral components as well as central Asian genetic ancestry. This Central Asian component associated with mitochondrial haplotype U2e was not shared with any individual from India, but rather with individuals from the Bronze Age of Tajikistan and with an earlier age of coalescence. In summary, we propose that the medieval site of Vadnagar in western India was rich in cultural and genetic aspects, with both local and western Eurasian components.

RevDate: 2024-03-08

Geier A, Trost J, Wang K, et al (2024)

PNPLA3 fatty liver allele was fixed in Neanderthals and segregates neutrally in humans.

Gut pii:gutjnl-2023-331594 [Epub ahead of print].

OBJECTIVE: Fat deposition is modulated by environmental factors and genetic predisposition. Genome-wide association studies identified PNPLA3 p.I148M (rs738409) as a common variant that increases risk of developing liver steatosis. When and how this variant evolved in humans has not been studied to date.

DESIGN: Here we analyse ancient DNA to track the history of this allele throughout human history. In total, 6444 published ancient (modern humans, Neanderthal, Denisovan) and 3943 published present day genomes were used for analysis after extracting genotype calls for PNPLA3 p.I148M. To quantify changes through time, logistic and, by grouping individuals according to geography and age, linear regression analyses were performed.

RESULTS: We find that archaic human individuals (Neanderthal, Denisovan) exclusively carried a fixed PNPLA3 risk allele, whereas allele frequencies in modern human populations range from very low in Africa to >50% in Mesoamerica. Over the last 15 000 years, distributions of ancestral and derived alleles roughly match the present day distribution. Logistic regression analyses did not yield signals of natural selection during the last 10 000 years.

CONCLUSION: Archaic human individuals exclusively carried a fixed PNPLA3 allele associated with fatty liver, whereas allele frequencies in modern human populations are variable even in the oldest samples. Our observation might underscore the advantage of fat storage in cold climate and particularly for Neanderthal under ice age conditions. The absent signals of natural selection during modern human history does not support the thrifty gene hypothesis in case of PNPLA3 p.I148M.

RevDate: 2024-03-07

Bergfeldt N, Kırdök E, Oskolkov N, et al (2024)

Identification of microbial pathogens in Neolithic Scandinavian humans.

Scientific reports, 14(1):5630.

With the Neolithic transition, human lifestyle shifted from hunting and gathering to farming. This change altered subsistence patterns, cultural expression, and population structures as shown by the archaeological/zooarchaeological record, as well as by stable isotope and ancient DNA data. Here, we used metagenomic data to analyse if the transitions also impacted the microbiome composition in 25 Mesolithic and Neolithic hunter-gatherers and 13 Neolithic farmers from several Scandinavian Stone Age cultural contexts. Salmonella enterica, a bacterium that may have been the cause of death for the infected individuals, was found in two Neolithic samples from Battle Axe culture contexts. Several species of the bacterial genus Yersinia were found in Neolithic individuals from Funnel Beaker culture contexts as well as from later Neolithic context. Transmission of e.g. Y. enterocolitica may have been facilitated by the denser populations in agricultural contexts.

RevDate: 2024-03-06

Mokrousov I (2024)

Origin and dispersal of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis Haarlem genotype: Clues from its phylogeographic landscape and human migration.

Molecular phylogenetics and evolution pii:S1055-7903(24)00037-X [Epub ahead of print].

The Haarlem family belongs to the Euro-American phylogenetic lineage of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and is one of the globally spread genotypes of this important human pathogen. In spite of the sporadic observations on drug resistance and peculiar virulence profile, Haarlem remains in the shade of other M. tuberculosis genotypes. I analyzed genotyping data of the Haarlem genotype in light of its pathogenic properties and relevant human migration, to gain insight into its origin, evolutionary history, and current spread. Central Europe is marked with a very high prevalence of both major Haarlem subclades ancestral H3/SIT50 and derived H1, jointly making 33-41 % in Czechia, Austria, and Hungary. There is a declining gradient of Haarlem beyond central Europe with 10-18 % in Italy, France, Belgium, 10-13 % in the Balkan countries and Turkey. Placing the available genetic diversity and ancient DNA data within the historical context, I hypothesize that M. tuberculosis Haarlem genotype likely originated in Central Europe and its primary long-term circulation occurred within the area of the former Austria/Austria-Hungary Empire in the 14th-19th centuries. The genotype is not highly transmissible and its spread was driven by long-term human migration. The European colonial expansion (when accompanied by a sufficient volume of migration) was a vehicle of its secondary dissemination. I conclude that human migration and its lack thereof (but not strain pathobiology) was a major driving force that shaped the population structure of this global lineage of M. tuberculosis. At the same time, Haarlem strains appear over-represented in some ethnic groups which warrants in-depth experimental research.

RevDate: 2024-03-06

MacRoberts RA, Liberato M, Roca-Rada X, et al (2024)

Shrouded in history: Unveiling the ways of life of an early Muslim population in Santarém, Portugal (8th- 10th century AD).

PloS one, 19(3):e0299958 pii:PONE-D-23-22907.

In around 716 AD, the city of Santarém, Portugal, was conquered by the Berber and Arab armies that swept the Iberian Peninsula and went on to rule the region until the 12th century. Archaeological excavations in 2007/08 discovered an Islamic necropolis (Avenida 5 de Outubro #2-8) that appears to contain the remains of an early Muslim population in Santarém (8th- 10th century). In this study, skeletal material from 58 adult individuals was analysed for stable carbon (δ13Ccol; δ13Cap), nitrogen (δ15N) and sulphur (δ34S) isotope ratios in bones, and stable oxygen (δ18O), carbon (δ13Cen) and radiogenic strontium (87Sr/86Sr) isotopes in tooth enamel. The results of this study revealed a dietary pattern of predominantly C3-plant and domestic C3-fed herbivore consumption during adulthood (δ13Ccol and δ15N, respectively) but a higher proportion of C4-plant input during childhood (δ13Cen) for some individuals-interpreted as possible childhood consumption of millet porridge, a common practice in North Africa-in those with unorthodox burial types (Groups 1 and 2) that was not practiced in the individuals with canonical burials (Group 3). In this first mobility study of a medieval Muslim population in Portugal, δ18ODW values revealed greater heterogeneity in Groups 1 and 2, consistent with diverse origins, some in more humid regions than Santarém when compared to regional precipitation δ18O data, contrasting the more homogenous Group 3, consistent with the local precipitation δ18O range. Ancient DNA analysis conducted on three individuals revealed maternal (mtDNA) and paternal (Y-chromosome) lineages compatible with a North African origin for (at least) some of the individuals. Additionally, mobility of females in this population was higher than males, potentially resulting from a patrilocal social system, practiced in Berber and Arab communities. These results serve to offer a more detailed insight into the ancestry and cultural practices of early Muslim populations in Iberia.

RevDate: 2024-03-05

Eisenhofer R, Wright S, L Weyrich (2024)

Benchmarking a targeted 16S ribosomal RNA gene enrichment approach to reconstruct ancient microbial communities.

PeerJ, 12:e16770.

The taxonomic characterization of ancient microbiomes is a key step in the rapidly growing field of paleomicrobiology. While PCR amplification of the 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene is a widely used technique in modern microbiota studies, this method has systematic biases when applied to ancient microbial DNA. Shotgun metagenomic sequencing has proven to be the most effective method in reconstructing taxonomic profiles of ancient dental calculus samples. Nevertheless, shotgun sequencing approaches come with inherent limitations that could be addressed through hybridization enrichment capture. When employed together, shotgun sequencing and hybridization capture have the potential to enhance the characterization of ancient microbial communities. Here, we develop, test, and apply a hybridization enrichment capture technique to selectively target 16S rRNA gene fragments from the libraries of ancient dental calculus samples generated with shotgun techniques. We simulated data sets generated from hybridization enrichment capture, indicating that taxonomic identification of fragmented and damaged 16S rRNA gene sequences was feasible. Applying this enrichment approach to 15 previously published ancient calculus samples, we observed a 334-fold increase of ancient 16S rRNA gene fragments in the enriched samples when compared to unenriched libraries. Our results suggest that 16S hybridization capture is less prone to the effects of background contamination than 16S rRNA amplification, yielding a higher percentage of on-target recovery. While our enrichment technique detected low abundant and rare taxa within a given sample, these assignments may not achieve the same level of specificity as those achieved by unenriched methods.

RevDate: 2024-03-01

Bennett EA, Q Fu (2024)

Ancient genomes and the evolutionary path of modern humans.

Cell, 187(5):1042-1046.

Growing evidence from archaic and early modern human genomes brings new insights to the emergence of modern humans. We recount recent information collected from ancient DNA studies that inform us about the evolutionary pathway to modern humanity. These findings point to both individual- and population-level advantages underlying modern human expansion.

RevDate: 2024-02-29

Meiri M, G Bar-Oz (2024)

Unraveling the diversity and cultural heritage of fruit crops through paleogenomics.

Trends in genetics : TIG pii:S0168-9525(24)00030-1 [Epub ahead of print].

Abundant and plentiful fruit crops are threatened by the loss of diverse legacy cultivars which are being replaced by a limited set of high-yielding ones. This article delves into the potential of paleogenomics that utilizes ancient DNA analysis to revive lost diversity. By focusing on grapevines, date palms, and tomatoes, recent studies showcase the effectiveness of paleogenomic techniques in identifying and understanding genetic traits crucial for crop resilience, disease resistance, and nutritional value. The approach not only tracks landrace dispersal and introgression but also sheds light on domestication events. In the face of major future environmental challenges, integrating paleogenomics with modern breeding strategies emerges as a promising avenue to significantly bolster fruit crop sustainability.

RevDate: 2024-02-28

Huang J, Chen J, Shi M, et al (2024)

Genome assembly provides insights into the genome evolution of Baccaurea ramiflora Lour.

Scientific reports, 14(1):4867.

Baccaurea ramiflora Lour., an evergreen tree of the Baccaurea genus of the Phyllanthaceae family, is primarily distributed in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and southern China, including southern Yunnan Province. It is a wild or semi-cultivated tree species with ornamental, edible, and medicinal value, exhibiting significant development potential. In this study, we present the whole-genome sequencing of B. ramiflora, employing a combination of PacBio SMRT and Illumina HiSeq 2500 sequencing techniques. The assembled genome size was 975.8 Mb, with a contig N50 of 509.33 kb and the longest contig measuring 7.74 Mb. The genome comprises approximately 73.47% highly repetitive sequences, of which 52.1% are long terminal repeat-retrotransposon sequences. A total of 29,172 protein-coding genes were predicted, of which 25,980 (89.06%) have been annotated, Additionally, 3452 non-coding RNAs were identified. Comparative genomic analysis revealed a close relationship between B. ramiflora and the Euphorbiaceae family, with both being sister groups that diverged approximately 59.9 million years ago. During the evolutionary process, B. ramiflora exhibited positive selection in 278 candidate genes. Synonymous substitution rate and collinearity analysis demonstrated that B. ramiflora underwent a single ancient genome-wide triploidization event, without recent genome-wide duplication events. This high-quality B. ramiflora genome provides a valuable resource for basic research and tree improvement programs focusing on the Phyllanthaceae family.

RevDate: 2024-02-28

Thomson-Laing G, Howarth JD, Atalah J, et al (2024)

Sedimentary ancient DNA reveals the impact of anthropogenic land use disturbance and ecological shifts on fish community structure in small lowland lake.

The Science of the total environment pii:S0048-9697(24)01405-0 [Epub ahead of print].

Freshwater fish biodiversity and abundance are decreasing globally. The drivers of decline are primarily anthropogenic; however, the causative links between disturbances and fish community change are complex and challenging to investigate. We used a suite of sedimentary DNA methods (droplet digital PCR and metabarcoding) and traditional paleolimnological approaches, including pollen and trace metal analysis, ITRAX X-ray fluorescence and hyperspectral core scanning to explore changes in fish abundance and drivers over 1390 years in a small lake. This period captured a disturbance trajectory from pre-human settlement through subsistence living to intensive agriculture. Generalized additive mixed models explored the relationships between catchment inputs, internal drivers, and fish community structure. Fish community composition distinctly shifted around 1350 CE, with the decline of a sensitive Galaxias species concomitant with early land use changes. Total fish abundance significantly declined around 1950 CE related to increases in ruminant bacterial DNA (a proxy for ruminant abundance) and cadmium flux (a proxy for phosphate fertilizers), implicating land use intensification as a key driver. Concurrent shifts in phytoplankton and zooplankton suggested that fish communities were likely impacted by food web dynamics. This study highlights the potential of sedDNA to elucidate the long-term disturbance impacts on biological communities in lakes.

RevDate: 2024-02-28

Martiniano R, Haber M, Almarri MA, et al (2024)

Ancient genomes illuminate Eastern Arabian population history and adaptation against malaria.

Cell genomics pii:S2666-979X(24)00034-X [Epub ahead of print].

The harsh climate of Arabia has posed challenges in generating ancient DNA from the region, hindering the direct examination of ancient genomes for understanding the demographic processes that shaped Arabian populations. In this study, we report whole-genome sequence data obtained from four Tylos-period individuals from Bahrain. Their genetic ancestry can be modeled as a mixture of sources from ancient Anatolia, Levant, and Iran/Caucasus, with variation between individuals suggesting population heterogeneity in Bahrain before the onset of Islam. We identify the G6PD Mediterranean mutation associated with malaria resistance in three out of four ancient Bahraini samples and estimate that it rose in frequency in Eastern Arabia from 5 to 6 kya onward, around the time agriculture appeared in the region. Our study characterizes the genetic composition of ancient Arabians, shedding light on the population history of Bahrain and demonstrating the feasibility of studies of ancient DNA in the region.

RevDate: 2024-02-28

Emery MV, Bolhofner K, Spake L, et al (2024)

Targeted enrichment of whole-genome SNPs from highly burned skeletal remains.

Journal of forensic sciences [Epub ahead of print].

Genetic assessment of highly incinerated and/or degraded human skeletal material is a persistent challenge in forensic DNA analysis, including identifying victims of mass disasters. Few studies have investigated the impact of thermal degradation on whole-genome single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) quality and quantity using next-generation sequencing (NGS). We present whole-genome SNP data obtained from the bones and teeth of 27 fire victims using two DNA extraction techniques. Extracts were converted to double-stranded DNA libraries then enriched for whole-genome SNPs using unpublished biotinylated RNA baits and sequenced on an Illumina NextSeq 550 platform. Raw reads were processed using the EAGER (Efficient Ancient Genome Reconstruction) pipeline, and the SNPs filtered and called using FreeBayes and GATK (v. 3.8). Mixed-effects modeling of the data suggest that SNP variability and preservation is predominantly determined by skeletal element and burn category, and not by extraction type. Whole-genome SNP data suggest that selecting long bones, hand and foot bones, and teeth subjected to temperatures <350°C are the most likely sources for higher genomic DNA yields. Furthermore, we observed an inverse correlation between the number of captured SNPs and the extent to which samples were burned, as well as a significant decrease in the total number of SNPs measured for samples subjected to temperatures >350°C. Our data complement previous analyses of burned human remains that compare extraction methods for downstream forensic applications and support the idea of adopting a modified Dabney extraction technique when traditional forensic methods fail to produce DNA yields sufficient for genetic identification.

RevDate: 2024-02-27

McComish BJ, Charleston MA, Parks M, et al (2024)

Ancient and modern genomes reveal microsatellites maintain a dynamic equilibrium through deep time.

Genome biology and evolution pii:7614887 [Epub ahead of print].

Microsatellites are widely used in population genetics, but their evolutionary dynamics remain poorly understood. It is unclear whether microsatellite loci drift in length over time. This is important because the mutation processes that underlie these important genetic markers are central to the evolutionary models that employ microsatellites. We identify more than 27 million microsatellites using a novel and unique dataset of modern and ancient Adélie penguin genomes along with data from 63 published chordate genomes. We investigate microsatellite evolutionary dynamics over two time scales: one based on Adélie penguin samples dating to approximately 46.5 kya, the other dating to the diversification of chordates more than 500 Mya. We show that the process of microsatellite allele length evolution is at dynamic equilibrium; while there is length polymorphism among individuals, the length distribution for a given locus remains stable. Many microsatellites persist over very long time scales, particularly in exons and regulatory sequences. These often retain length variability, suggesting that they may play a role in maintaining phenotypic variation within populations.

RevDate: 2024-02-26

Shao W, Wang J, Zhang Y, et al (2024)

The jet-like chromatin structure defines active secondary metabolism in fungi.

Nucleic acids research pii:7614127 [Epub ahead of print].

Eukaryotic genomes are spatially organized within the nucleus in a nonrandom manner. However, fungal genome arrangement and its function in development and adaptation remain largely unexplored. Here, we show that the high-order chromosome structure of Fusarium graminearum is sculpted by both H3K27me3 modification and ancient genome rearrangements. Active secondary metabolic gene clusters form a structure resembling chromatin jets. We demonstrate that these jet-like domains, which can propagate symmetrically for 54 kb, are prevalent in the genome and correlate with active gene transcription and histone acetylation. Deletion of GCN5, which encodes a core and functionally conserved histone acetyltransferase, blocks the formation of the domains. Insertion of an exogenous gene within the jet-like domain significantly augments its transcription. These findings uncover an interesting link between alterations in chromatin structure and the activation of fungal secondary metabolism, which could be a general mechanism for fungi to rapidly respond to environmental cues, and highlight the utility of leveraging three-dimensional genome organization in improving gene transcription in eukaryotes.

RevDate: 2024-02-20

Rohrlach AB, Rivollat M, de-Miguel-Ibáñez P, et al (2024)

Cases of trisomy 21 and trisomy 18 among historic and prehistoric individuals discovered from ancient DNA.

Nature communications, 15(1):1294.

Aneuploidies, and in particular, trisomies represent the most common genetic aberrations observed in human genetics today. To explore the presence of trisomies in historic and prehistoric populations we screen nearly 10,000 ancient human individuals for the presence of three copies of any of the target autosomes. We find clear genetic evidence for six cases of trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) and one case of trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome), and all cases are present in infant or perinatal burials. We perform comparative osteological examinations of the skeletal remains and find overlapping skeletal markers, many of which are consistent with these syndromes. Interestingly, three cases of trisomy 21, and the case of trisomy 18 were detected in two contemporaneous sites in early Iron Age Spain (800-400 BCE), potentially suggesting a higher frequency of burials of trisomy carriers in those societies. Notably, the care with which the burials were conducted, and the items found with these individuals indicate that ancient societies likely acknowledged these individuals with trisomy 18 and 21 as members of their communities, from the perspective of burial practice.

RevDate: 2024-02-20

Kumar S, Singh PP, Pasupuleti N, et al (2024)

Genetic evidence for a single founding population of the Lakshadweep Islands.

Molecular genetics and genomics : MGG, 299(1):8.

Lakshadweep is an archipelago of 36 islands located in the Southeastern Arabian Sea. In the absence of a detailed archaeological record, the human settlement timing of this island is vague. Previous genetic studies on haploid DNA makers suggested sex-biased ancestry linked to North and South Indian populations. Maternal ancestry suggested a closer link with the Southern Indian, while paternal ancestry advocated the Northern Indian genetic affinity. Since the haploid markers are more sensitive to genetic drift, which is evident for the Island populations, we have used the biparental high-resolution single-nucleotide polymorphic markers to reconstruct the population history of Lakshadweep Islands. Using the fine-scaled analyses, we specifically focused on (A) the ancestry components of Lakshadweep Islands populations; (B) their relation with East, West Eurasia and South Asia; (C) the number of founding lineages and (D) the putative migration from Northern India as the paternal ancestry was closer to the North Indian populations. Our analysis of ancestry components confirmed relatively higher North Indian ancestry among the Lakshadweep population. These populations are closely related to the South Asian populations. We identified mainly a single founding population for these Islands, geographically divided into two sub-clusters. By examining the population's genetic composition and analysing the gene flow from different source populations, this study contributes to our understanding of Lakshadweep Island's evolutionary history and population dynamics. These findings shed light on the complex interactions between ethnic groups and their genetic contributions in making the Lakshadweep population.

RevDate: 2024-02-16

Buchwald SZ, Herzschuh U, Nürnberg D, et al (2024)

Plankton community changes during the last 124 000 years in the subarctic Bering Sea derived from sedimentary ancient DNA.

The ISME journal, 18(1):.

Current global warming results in rising sea-water temperatures, and the loss of sea ice in Arctic and subarctic oceans impacts the community composition of primary producers with cascading effects on the food web and potentially on carbon export rates. This study analyzes metagenomic shotgun and diatom rbcL amplicon sequencing data from sedimentary ancient DNA of the subarctic western Bering Sea that records phyto- and zooplankton community changes over the last glacial-interglacial cycles, including the last interglacial period (Eemian). Our data show that interglacial and glacial plankton communities differ, with distinct Eemian and Holocene plankton communities. The generally warm Holocene period is dominated by picosized cyanobacteria and bacteria-feeding heterotrophic protists, while the Eemian period is dominated by eukaryotic picosized chlorophytes and Triparmaceae. By contrast, the glacial period is characterized by microsized phototrophic protists, including sea ice-associated diatoms in the family Bacillariaceae and co-occurring diatom-feeding crustaceous zooplankton. Our deep-time record of plankton community changes reveals a long-term decrease in phytoplankton cell size coeval with increasing temperatures, resembling community changes in the currently warming Bering Sea. The phytoplankton community in the warmer-than-present Eemian period is distinct from modern communities and limits the use of the Eemian as an analog for future climate scenarios. However, under enhanced future warming, the expected shift toward the dominance of small-sized phytoplankton and heterotrophic protists might result in an increased productivity, whereas the community's potential of carbon export will be decreased, thereby weakening the subarctic Bering Sea's function as an effective carbon sink.

RevDate: 2024-02-16

Simon A, G Coop (2024)

The contribution of gene flow, selection, and genetic drift to five thousand years of human allele frequency change.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 121(9):e2312377121.

Genomic time series from experimental evolution studies and ancient DNA datasets offer us a chance to directly observe the interplay of various evolutionary forces. We show how the genome-wide variance in allele frequency change between two time points can be decomposed into the contributions of gene flow, genetic drift, and linked selection. In closed populations, the contribution of linked selection is identifiable because it creates covariances between time intervals, and genetic drift does not. However, repeated gene flow between populations can also produce directionality in allele frequency change, creating covariances. We show how to accurately separate the fraction of variance in allele frequency change due to admixture and linked selection in a population receiving gene flow. We use two human ancient DNA datasets, spanning around 5,000 y, as time transects to quantify the contributions to the genome-wide variance in allele frequency change. We find that a large fraction of genome-wide change is due to gene flow. In both cases, after correcting for known major gene flow events, we do not observe a signal of genome-wide linked selection. Thus despite the known role of selection in shaping long-term polymorphism levels, and an increasing number of examples of strong selection on single loci and polygenic scores from ancient DNA, it appears to be gene flow and drift, and not selection, that are the main determinants of recent genome-wide allele frequency change. Our approach should be applicable to the growing number of contemporary and ancient temporal population genomics datasets.

RevDate: 2024-02-16

Taylor GM, White-Iribhogbe K, Cole G, et al (2024)

Bioarchaeological investigation of individuals with suspected multibacillary leprosy from the mediaeval leprosarium of St Mary Magdalen, Winchester, Hampshire, UK.

Journal of medical microbiology, 73(2):.

Introduction. We have examined four burials from the St Mary Magdalen mediaeval leprosarium cemetery in Winchester, Hampshire, UK. One (Sk.8) was a male child, two (Sk.45 and Sk.52) were adolescent females and the fourth (Sk.512) was an adult male. The cemetery was in use between the 10th and 12th centuries. All showed skeletal lesions of leprosy. Additionally, one of the two females (Sk.45) had lesions suggestive of multi-cystic tuberculosis and the second (Sk.52) of leprogenic odontodysplasia (LO), a rare malformation of the roots of the permanent maxillary incisors.Gap statement. Relatively little is known of the manifestations of lepromatous leprosy (LL) in younger individuals from the archaeological record.Aims and Methodology. To address this, we have used ancient DNA testing and osteological examination of the individuals, supplemented with X-ray and microcomputed tomography (micro-CT) scan as necessary to assess the disease status.Results and Conclusions. The presence of Mycobacterium leprae DNA was confirmed in both females, and genotyping showed SNP type 3I-1 strains but with a clear genotypic variation. We could not confirm Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex DNA in the female individual SK.45. High levels of M. leprae DNA were found within the pulp cavities of four maxillary teeth from the male child (Sk.8) with LO, consistent with the theory that the replication of M. leprae in alveolar bone may interfere with root formation at key stages of development. We report our biomolecular findings in these individuals and review the evidence this site has contributed to our knowledge of mediaeval leprosy.

RevDate: 2024-02-15
CmpDate: 2024-02-15

Mylopotamitaki D, Weiss M, Fewlass H, et al (2024)

Homo sapiens reached the higher latitudes of Europe by 45,000 years ago.

Nature, 626(7998):341-346.

The Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition in Europe is associated with the regional disappearance of Neanderthals and the spread of Homo sapiens. Late Neanderthals persisted in western Europe several millennia after the occurrence of H. sapiens in eastern Europe[1]. Local hybridization between the two groups occurred[2], but not on all occasions[3]. Archaeological evidence also indicates the presence of several technocomplexes during this transition, complicating our understanding and the association of behavioural adaptations with specific hominin groups[4]. One such technocomplex for which the makers are unknown is the Lincombian-Ranisian-Jerzmanowician (LRJ), which has been described in northwestern and central Europe[5-8]. Here we present the morphological and proteomic taxonomic identification, mitochondrial DNA analysis and direct radiocarbon dating of human remains directly associated with an LRJ assemblage at the site Ilsenhöhle in Ranis (Germany). These human remains are among the earliest directly dated Upper Palaeolithic H. sapiens remains in Eurasia. We show that early H. sapiens associated with the LRJ were present in central and northwestern Europe long before the extinction of late Neanderthals in southwestern Europe. Our results strengthen the notion of a patchwork of distinct human populations and technocomplexes present in Europe during this transitional period.

RevDate: 2024-02-14

Laffranchi Z, Zingale S, Tecchiati U, et al (2024)

"Until death do us part". A multidisciplinary study on human- Animal co- burials from the Late Iron Age necropolis of Seminario Vescovile in Verona (Northern Italy, 3rd-1st c. BCE).

PloS one, 19(2):e0293434 pii:PONE-D-23-21197.

Animal remains are a common find in prehistoric and protohistoric funerary contexts. While taphonomic and osteological data provide insights about the proximate (depositional) factors responsible for these findings, the ultimate cultural causes leading to this observed mortuary behavior are obscured by the opacity of the archaeological record and the lack of written sources. Here, we apply an interdisciplinary suite of analytical approaches (zooarchaeological, anthropological, archaeological, paleogenetic, and isotopic) to explore the funerary deposition of animal remains and the nature of joint human-animal burials at Seminario Vescovile (Verona, Northern Italy 3rd-1st c. BCE). This context, culturally attributed to the Cenomane culture, features 161 inhumations, of which only 16 included animal remains in the form of full skeletons, isolated skeletal parts, or food offerings. Of these, four are of particular interest as they contain either horses (Equus caballus) or dogs (Canis lupus familiaris)-animals that did not play a dietary role. Analyses show no demographic, dietary, funerary similarities, or genetic relatedness between individuals buried with animals. Isotopic data from two analyzed dogs suggest differing management strategies for these animals, possibly linked to economic and/or ritual factors. Overall, our results point to the unsuitability of simple, straightforward explanations for the observed funerary variability. At the same time, they connect the evidence from Seminario Vescovile with documented Transalpine cultural traditions possibly influenced by local and Roman customs.

RevDate: 2024-02-13

Laine J, Mak SST, Martins NFG, et al (2024)

Late Pleistocene stickleback environmental genomes reveal the chronology of freshwater adaptation.

Current biology : CB pii:S0960-9822(24)00093-9 [Epub ahead of print].

Directly observing the chronology and tempo of adaptation in response to ecological change is rarely possible in natural ecosystems. Sedimentary ancient DNA (sedaDNA) has been shown to be a tractable source of genome-scale data of long-dead organisms[1][,][2][,][3] and to thereby potentially provide an understanding of the evolutionary histories of past populations.[4][,][5] To date, time series of ecosystem biodiversity have been reconstructed from sedaDNA, typically using DNA metabarcoding or shotgun sequence data generated from less than 1 g of sediment.[6][,][7] Here, we maximize sequence coverage by extracting DNA from ∼50× more sediment per sample than the majority of previous studies[1][,][2][,][3] to achieve genotype resolution. From a time series of Late Pleistocene sediments spanning from a marine to freshwater ecosystem, we compare adaptive genotypes reconstructed from the environmental genomes of three-spined stickleback at key time points of this transition. We find a staggered temporal dynamic in which freshwater alleles at known loci of large effect in marine-freshwater divergence of three-spined stickleback (e.g., EDA)[8] were already established during the brackish phase of the formation of the isolation basin. However, marine alleles were still detected across the majority of marine-freshwater divergence-associated loci, even after the complete isolation of the lake from marine ingression. Our retrospective approach to studying adaptation from environmental genomes of three-spined sticklebacks at the end of the last glacial period complements contemporary experimental approaches[9][,][10][,][11] and highlights the untapped potential for retrospective "evolve and resequence" natural experiments using sedaDNA.

RevDate: 2024-02-13

Vincenti G, Molinaro L, Sajjadi SMS, et al (2024)

Female biased adult sex ratio in the Bronze Age cemetery of Shahr-i Sokhta (Iran) as an indicator of long distance trade and matrilocality.

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

OBJECTIVES: This paper starts from the unusual observation of the overrepresentation of females among adults in the cemetery of Bronze Age Shahr-i Sokhta (Seistan, Iran) and explores the post marital residence pattern. By integrating taphonomical (skeletal preservation), anthropological (sex ratio [SR], sexual dimorphism, stress indicators, age at death), archeological (long distance trade indicators, habitation floor area, social role of women), and ancient DNA (heterozygosity levels in X chromosomes) data we test the hypothesis of post marital matrilocality in the site.

METHODS: We computed the SR (pelvis-based sex determination) in a random unpublished adult sample from the cemetery of Shahr-i Sokhta and in two samples previously published by other authors. We used comparative data on SR from: a large Supra Regional multi-chronological sample of sites, n = 47, with 8808 adult sexed individuals, from Southern Europe, Egypt, Middle East, Southern Russia; a Regional Bronze Age sample of sites (n = 10) from Bactria Margiana and Indus Valley with 1324 adult sexed individuals. We estimated the heterozygosity levels in X chromosomes compared with the rest of the autosomes on the assumption that in a matrilocal society females should show lower variability than men.

RESULTS: Adult SR in a sample (n = 549) from Shahr-i Sokhta is 70.5, the overrepresentation of females is shared with Regional Bronze Age sites from Bactria Margiana (SR = 72.09) and Indus Valley (SR = 67.54). On the contrary, in a larger Supra Regional multi-chronological sample of sites, mean SR ranges between 112.7 (Bronze Age) and 163.1 (Middle Ages). Taphonomical and anthropological indicators do not explain the overrepresentation of female skeletons. Archeological indicators suggest a high social status of women and that the society was devoted to long range trade activities. heterozygosity levels in X chromosomes are in agreement with a matrilocal society.

CONCLUSIONS: Indicators suggest that Bronze Age Shahr-ì Sokhta was a matrilocal society and that long distance trade was an important economic factor producing an overrepresentation of adult female skeletons in the cemetery.

RevDate: 2024-02-10

Mallick S, Micco A, Mah M, et al (2024)

The Allen Ancient DNA Resource (AADR) a curated compendium of ancient human genomes.

Scientific data, 11(1):182.

More than two hundred papers have reported genome-wide data from ancient humans. While the raw data for the vast majority are fully publicly available testifying to the commitment of the paleogenomics community to open data, formats for both raw data and meta-data differ. There is thus a need for uniform curation and a centralized, version-controlled compendium that researchers can download, analyze, and reference. Since 2019, we have been maintaining the Allen Ancient DNA Resource (AADR), which aims to provide an up-to-date, curated version of the world's published ancient human DNA data, represented at more than a million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at which almost all ancient individuals have been assayed. The AADR has gone through six public releases at the time of writing and review of this manuscript, and crossed the threshold of >10,000 individuals with published genome-wide ancient DNA data at the end of 2022. This note is intended as a citable descriptor of the AADR.

RevDate: 2024-02-03

Navarro-Romero MT, Muñoz ML, Krause-Kyora B, et al (2024)

Bioanthropological analysis of human remains from the archaic and classic period discovered in Puyil cave, Mexico.

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

OBJECTIVES: Determine the geographic place of origin and maternal lineage of prehistoric human skeletal remains discovered in Puyil Cave, Tabasco State, Mexico, located in a region currently populated by Olmec, Zoque and Maya populations.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: All specimens were radiocarbon ([14] C) dated (beta analytic), had dental modifications classified, and had an analysis of 13 homologous reference points conducted to evaluate artificial cranial deformation (ACD). Following DNA purification, hypervariable region I (HVR-1) of the mitogenome was amplified and Sanger sequenced. Finally, Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) was performed for total DNA. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variants and haplogroups were determined using BioEdit 7.2 and IGV software and confirmed with MITOMASTER and WebHome softwares.

RESULTS: Radiocarbon dating ([14] C) demonstrated that the inhabitants of Puyil Cave lived during the Archaic and Classic Periods and displayed tabular oblique and tabular mimetic ACD. These pre-Hispanic remains exhibited five mtDNA lineages: A, A2, C1, C1c and D4. Network analysis revealed a close genetic affinity between pre-Hispanic Puyil Cave inhabitants and contemporary Maya subpopulations from Mexico and Guatemala, as well as individuals from Bolivia, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and China.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results elucidate the dispersal of pre-Hispanic Olmec and Maya ancestors and suggest that ACD practices are closely related to Olmec and Maya practices. Additionally, we conclude that ACD has likely been practiced in the region since the Middle-Archaic Period.

RevDate: 2024-02-01

Petrić Howe N, S Bundell (2024)

Ancient DNA solves the mystery of who made a set of stone tools.

RevDate: 2024-01-30

Fiorin E, Roberts CA, Baldoni M, et al (2024)

First archaeological evidence for ginger consumption as a potential medicinal ingredient in a late medieval leprosarium at St Leonard, Peterborough, England.

Scientific reports, 14(1):2452.

Leprosy was one of the most outwardly visible diseases in the European Middle Ages, a period during which leprosaria were founded to provide space for the sick. The extant documentary evidence for leprosy hospitals, especially in relation to diet, therapeutic, and medical care, is limited. However, human dental calculus stands to be an important source of information as it provides insight into the substances people were exposed to and accumulated in their bodies during their lives. In the present study, microremains and DNA were analysed from the calculus of individuals buried in the late medieval cemetery of St Leonard, a leprosarium located in Peterborough, England. The results show the presence of ginger (Zingiber officinale), a culinary and medicinal ingredient, as well as evidence of consumption of cereals and legumes. This research suggests that affected individuals consumed ingredients mentioned in medieval medical textbooks that were used to treat regions of the body typically impacted by leprosy. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first study which has identified Zingiber officinale in human dental calculus in England or on the wider European continent.

RevDate: 2024-01-30

Antonio ML, Weiß CL, Gao Z, et al (2024)

Stable population structure in Europe since the Iron Age, despite high mobility.

eLife, 13: pii:79714.

Ancient DNA research in the past decade has revealed that European population structure changed dramatically in the prehistoric period (14,000-3000 years before present, YBP), reflecting the widespread introduction of Neolithic farmer and Bronze Age Steppe ancestries. However, little is known about how population structure changed from the historical period onward (3000 YBP - present). To address this, we collected whole genomes from 204 individuals from Europe and the Mediterranean, many of which are the first historical period genomes from their region (e.g. Armenia and France). We found that most regions show remarkable inter-individual heterogeneity. At least 7% of historical individuals carry ancestry uncommon in the region where they were sampled, some indicating cross-Mediterranean contacts. Despite this high level of mobility, overall population structure across western Eurasia is relatively stable through the historical period up to the present, mirroring geography. We show that, under standard population genetics models with local panmixia, the observed level of dispersal would lead to a collapse of population structure. Persistent population structure thus suggests a lower effective migration rate than indicated by the observed dispersal. We hypothesize that this phenomenon can be explained by extensive transient dispersal arising from drastically improved transportation networks and the Roman Empire's mobilization of people for trade, labor, and military. This work highlights the utility of ancient DNA in elucidating finer scale human population dynamics in recent history.

RevDate: 2024-01-30

Lei H, Li J, Zhao B, et al (2024)

Evolutionary origin of germline pathogenic variants in human DNA mismatch repair genes.

Human genomics, 18(1):5.

BACKGROUND: Mismatch repair (MMR) system is evolutionarily conserved for genome stability maintenance. Germline pathogenic variants (PVs) in MMR genes that lead to MMR functional deficiency are associated with high cancer risk. Knowing the evolutionary origin of germline PVs in human MMR genes will facilitate understanding the biological base of MMR deficiency in cancer. However, systematic knowledge is lacking to address the issue. In this study, we performed a comprehensive analysis to know the evolutionary origin of human MMR PVs.

METHODS: We retrieved MMR gene variants from the ClinVar database. The genomes of 100 vertebrates were collected from the UCSC genome browser and ancient human sequencing data were obtained through comprehensive data mining. Cross-species conservation analysis was performed based on the phylogenetic relationship among 100 vertebrates. Rescaled ancient sequencing data were used to perform variant calling for archeological analysis.

RESULTS: Using the phylogenetic approach, we traced the 3369 MMR PVs identified in modern humans in 99 non-human vertebrate genomes but found no evidence for cross-species conservation as the source for human MMR PVs. Using the archeological approach, we searched the human MMR PVs in over 5000 ancient human genomes dated from 45,045 to 100 years before present and identified a group of MMR PVs shared between modern and ancient humans mostly within 10,000 years with similar quantitative patterns.

CONCLUSION: Our study reveals that MMR PVs in modern humans were arisen within the recent human evolutionary history.

RevDate: 2024-01-29

Śledziński ŁJ, Zamerska A, Jędrychowska-Dańska K, et al (2024)

Suggested mechanism of CCR5Δ32, CCR2-64I and SDF 1-3'A allele frequency change in Polish and Lithuanian gene pools from the perspective of passing time.

Anthropologischer Anzeiger; Bericht uber die biologisch-anthropologische Literatur [Epub ahead of print].

The study aimed to determine the frequency of the alleles associated with hereditary immune response in 16 historical populations and assess which evolutionary forces may have contributed to the observed frequency fluctuation. The analysed polymorphic sites are located in three genes - CCR5, CCR2 and SDF 1 (CXCL12). Protein products are involved in the innate immune response and are also involved in various types of infections, autoimmune diseases and tumours. The frequency of the alleles found in the DNA of the studied individuals was determined by the Sanger methodology and was compared with the data obtained for modern populations. To confirm the authenticity of the obtained results, mtDNA HVRI haplotypes of all the studied samples were obtained and compared with the genetic database of the laboratory personnel who came into contact with the studied material. Based on the variability of allele frequency, advanced biostatistical analysis was used to distinguish the effect of natural selection from genetic drift, i.e. the forces operating on the polymorphic sites studied. All procedures were performed according to the guidelines for working with ancient DNA to avoid contamination with modern DNA molecules. 681 samples from 39 archaeological sites in Poland and Lithuania dated to the 40[th] century BC and the 19[th] century were studied. The biostatistical analysis showed that the fluctuations in the frequency of CCR5Δ32 in the analysed time interval could be mainly the effect of genetic drift. Nevertheless, for CCR2-64I and SDF 1-3'A, the results confirm the suggestion of negative selection as the mechanism involved. Since all the polymorphic sites encode the elements of innate immune response that are indirectly associated with the process of an HPV infection and the development of cervical cancer, the human papillomavirus may be a good candidate for a selection coefficient affecting the frequency of CCR2-64I and SDF 1-3'A. However, for CCR5Δ32, selection was not detected despite its proven role in the molecular mechanism involved in the response to an HPV infection. The presented work seems to be the first in which the problem of the pattern of CCR5Δ32, CCR2-64I and SDF 1-3'A frequency fluctuations in a temporal perspective was discussed, proposing HPV as a factor influencing the occurrence of the CCR2 and SDF1 alleles.

RevDate: 2024-01-27

Kellner FL, Le Moullec M, Ellegaard MR, et al (2024)

A palaeogenomic investigation of overharvest implications in an endemic wild reindeer subspecies.

Molecular ecology [Epub ahead of print].

Overharvest can severely reduce the abundance and distribution of a species and thereby impact its genetic diversity and threaten its future viability. Overharvest remains an ongoing issue for Arctic mammals, which due to climate change now also confront one of the fastest changing environments on Earth. The high-arctic Svalbard reindeer (Rangifer tarandus platyrhynchus), endemic to Svalbard, experienced a harvest-induced demographic bottleneck that occurred during the 17-20th centuries. Here, we investigate changes in genetic diversity, population structure, and gene-specific differentiation during and after this overharvesting event. Using whole-genome shotgun sequencing, we generated the first ancient and historical nuclear (n = 11) and mitochondrial (n = 18) genomes from Svalbard reindeer (up to 4000 BP) and integrated these data with a large collection of modern genome sequences (n = 90) to infer temporal changes. We show that hunting resulted in major genetic changes and restructuring in reindeer populations. Near-extirpation followed by pronounced genetic drift has altered the allele frequencies of important genes contributing to diverse biological functions. Median heterozygosity was reduced by 26%, while the mitochondrial genetic diversity was reduced only to a limited extent, likely due to already low pre-harvest diversity and a complex post-harvest recolonization process. Such genomic erosion and genetic isolation of populations due to past anthropogenic disturbance will likely play a major role in metapopulation dynamics (i.e., extirpation, recolonization) under further climate change. Our results from a high-arctic case study therefore emphasize the need to understand the long-term interplay of past, current, and future stressors in wildlife conservation.

RevDate: 2024-01-26

Wurst C, Maixner F, Paladin A, et al (2024)

Genetic Predisposition of Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease in Ancient Human Remains.

Annals of global health, 90(1):6.

BACKGROUND: Several computed tomographic studies have shown the presence of atherosclerosis in ancient human remains. However, while it is important to understand the development of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), genetic data concerning the prevalence of the disease-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in our ancestors are scarce.

OBJECTIVE: For a better understanding of the role of genetics in the evolution of ASCVD, we applied an enrichment capture sequencing approach to mummified human remains from different geographic regions and time periods.

METHODS: Twenty-two mummified individuals were analyzed for their genetic predisposition of ASCVD. Next-generation sequencing methods were applied to ancient DNA (aDNA) samples, including a novel enrichment approach specifically designed to capture SNPs associated with ASCVD in genome-wide association studies of modern humans.

FINDINGS: Five out of 22 ancient individuals passed all filter steps for calculating a weighted polygenic risk score (PRS) based on 87 SNPs in 56 genes. PRSs were correlated to scores obtained from contemporary people from around the world and cover their complete range. The genetic results of the ancient individuals reflect their phenotypic results, given that the only two mummies showing calcified atherosclerotic arterial plaques on computed tomography scans are the ones exhibiting the highest calculated PRSs.

CONCLUSIONS: These data show that alleles associated with ASCVD have been widespread for at least 5,000 years. Despite some limitations due to the nature of aDNA, our approach has the potential to lead to a better understanding of the interaction between environmental and genetic influences on the development of ASCVD.

RevDate: 2024-01-24

Majander K, Pla-Díaz M, du Plessis L, et al (2024)

Redefining the treponemal history through pre-Columbian genomes from Brazil.

Nature [Epub ahead of print].

The origins of treponemal diseases have long remained unknown, especially considering the sudden onset of the first syphilis epidemic in the late 15th century in Europe and its hypothesized arrival from the Americas with Columbus' expeditions[1,2]. Recently, ancient DNA evidence has revealed various treponemal infections circulating in early modern Europe and colonial-era Mexico[3-6]. However, there has been to our knowledge no genomic evidence of treponematosis recovered from either the Americas or the Old World that can be reliably dated to the time before the first trans-Atlantic contacts. Here, we present treponemal genomes from nearly 2,000-year-old human remains from Brazil. We reconstruct four ancient genomes of a prehistoric treponemal pathogen, most closely related to the bejel-causing agent Treponema pallidum endemicum. Contradicting the modern day geographical niche of bejel in the arid regions of the world, the results call into question the previous palaeopathological characterization of treponeme subspecies and showcase their adaptive potential. A high-coverage genome is used to improve molecular clock date estimations, placing the divergence of modern T. pallidum subspecies firmly in pre-Columbian times. Overall, our study demonstrates the opportunities within archaeogenetics to uncover key events in pathogen evolution and emergence, paving the way to new hypotheses on the origin and spread of treponematoses.

RevDate: 2024-01-24

Delezene LK, Scott JE, Irish JD, et al (2024)

Sex-biased sampling may influence Homo naledi tooth size variation.

Journal of human evolution, 187:103490 pii:S0047-2484(23)00169-0 [Epub ahead of print].

A frequent source of debate in paleoanthropology concerns the taxonomic unity of fossil assemblages, with many hominin samples exhibiting elevated levels of variation that can be interpreted as indicating the presence of multiple species. By contrast, the large assemblage of hominin fossils from the Rising Star cave system, assigned to Homo naledi, exhibits a remarkably low degree of variation for most skeletal elements. Many factors can contribute to low sample variation, including genetic drift, strong natural selection, biased sex ratios, and sampling of closely related individuals. In this study, we tested for potential sex-biased sampling in the Rising Star dental sample. We compared coefficients of variation for the H. naledi teeth to those for eight extant hominoid samples. We used a resampling procedure that generated samples from the extant taxa that matched the sample size of the fossil sample for each possible Rising Star dental sex ratio. We found that variation at four H. naledi tooth positions-I2, M1, P[4], M1-is so low that the possibility that one sex is represented by few or no individuals in the sample cannot be excluded. Additional evidence is needed to corroborate this inference, such as ancient DNA or enamel proteome data, and our study design does not address other potential factors that would account for low sample variation. Nevertheless, our results highlight the importance of considering the taphonomic history of a hominin assemblage and suggest that sex-biased sampling is a plausible explanation for the low level of phenotypic variation found in some aspects of the current H. naledi assemblage.

RevDate: 2024-01-23

Barouch A, Mathov Y, Meshorer E, et al (2024)

Reconstructing DNA methylation maps of ancient populations.

Nucleic acids research pii:7585666 [Epub ahead of print].

Studying premortem DNA methylation from ancient DNA (aDNA) provides a proxy for ancient gene activity patterns, and hence valuable information on evolutionary changes in gene regulation. Due to statistical limitations, current methods to reconstruct aDNA methylation maps are constrained to high-coverage shotgun samples, which comprise a small minority of available ancient samples. Most samples are sequenced using in-situ hybridization capture sequencing which targets a predefined set of genomic positions. Here, we develop methods to reconstruct aDNA methylation maps of samples that were not sequenced using high-coverage shotgun sequencing, by way of pooling together individuals to obtain a DNA methylation map that is characteristic of a population. We show that the resulting DNA methylation maps capture meaningful biological information and allow for the detection of differential methylation across populations. We offer guidelines on how to carry out comparative studies involving ancient populations, and how to control the rate of falsely discovered differentially methylated regions. The ability to reconstruct DNA methylation maps of past populations allows for the development of a whole new frontier in paleoepigenetic research, tracing DNA methylation changes throughout human history, using data from thousands of ancient samples.

RevDate: 2024-01-23

Bennasar-Figueras A (2024)

The Natural and Clinical History of Plague: From the Ancient Pandemics to Modern Insights.

Microorganisms, 12(1): pii:microorganisms12010146.

The human pathogen Yersinia pestis is responsible for bubonic, septicemic, and pneumonic plague. A deeply comprehensive overview of its historical context, bacteriological characteristics, genomic analysis based on ancient DNA (aDNA) and modern strains, and its impact on historical and actual human populations, is explored. The results from multiple studies have been synthesized to investigate the origins of plague, its transmission, and effects on different populations. Additionally, molecular interactions of Y. pestis, from its evolutionary origins to its adaptation to flea-born transmission, and its impact on human and wild populations are considered. The characteristic combinations of aDNA patterns, which plays a decisive role in the reconstruction and analysis of ancient genomes, are reviewed. Bioinformatics is fundamental in identifying specific Y. pestis lineages, and automated pipelines are among the valuable tools in implementing such studies. Plague, which remains among human history's most lethal infectious diseases, but also other zoonotic diseases, requires the continuous investigation of plague topics. This can be achieved by improving molecular and genetic screening of animal populations, identifying ecological and social determinants of outbreaks, increasing interdisciplinary collaborations among scientists and public healthcare providers, and continued research into the characterization, diagnosis, and treatment of these diseases.

RevDate: 2024-01-22

Zhang M, Wang CH, Zheng YX, et al (2024)

Ancient DNA unravels species identification from Laosicheng site, Hunan Province, China, and provides insights into maternal genetic history of East Asian leopards.

Zoological research, 45(1):226-229.

RevDate: 2024-01-18

Kırdök E, Kashuba N, Damlien H, et al (2024)

Metagenomic analysis of Mesolithic chewed pitch reveals poor oral health among stone age individuals.

Scientific reports, 13(1):22125.

Prehistoric chewed pitch has proven to be a useful source of ancient DNA, both from humans and their microbiomes. Here we present the metagenomic analysis of three pieces of chewed pitch from Huseby Klev, Sweden, that were dated to 9,890-9,540 before present. The metagenomic profile exposes a Mesolithic oral microbiome that includes opportunistic oral pathogens. We compared the data with healthy and dysbiotic microbiome datasets and we identified increased abundance of periodontitis-associated microbes. In addition, trained machine learning models predicted dysbiosis with 70-80% probability. Moreover, we identified DNA sequences from eukaryotic species such as red fox, hazelnut, red deer and apple. Our results indicate a case of poor oral health during the Scandinavian Mesolithic, and show that pitch pieces have the potential to provide information on material use, diet and oral health.

RevDate: 2024-01-17

Budaeva N, Agne S, Ribeiro PA, et al (2024)

Wide-spread dispersal in a deep-sea brooding polychaete: the role of natural history collections in assessing the distribution in quill worms (Onuphidae, Annelida).

Frontiers in zoology, 21(1):1.

BACKGROUND: Modern integrative taxonomy-based annelid species descriptions are detailed combining morphological data and, since the last decades, also molecular information. Historic species descriptions are often comparatively brief lacking such detail. Adoptions of species names from western literature in the past led to the assumption of cosmopolitan ranges for many species, which, in many cases, were later found to include cryptic or pseudocryptic lineages with subtle morphological differences. Natural history collections and databases can aid in assessing the geographic ranges of species but depend on correct species identification. Obtaining DNA sequence information from wet-collection museum specimens of marine annelids is often impeded by the use of formaldehyde and/or long-term storage in ethanol resulting in DNA degradation and cross-linking.

RESULTS: The application of ancient DNA extraction methodology in combination with single-stranded DNA library preparation and target gene capture resulted in successful sequencing of a 110-year-old collection specimen of quill worms. Furthermore, a 40-year-old specimen of quill worms was successfully sequenced using a standard extraction protocol for modern samples, PCR and Sanger sequencing. Our study presents the first molecular analysis of Hyalinoecia species including the previously known species Hyalinoecia robusta, H. tubicloa, H. artifex, and H. longibranchiata, and a potentially undescribed species from equatorial western Africa morphologically indistinguishable from H. tubicola. The study also investigates the distribution of these five Hyalinoecia species. Reassessing the distribution of H. robusta reveals a geographical range covering both the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans as indicated by molecular data obtained from recent and historical specimens.

CONCLUSION: Our results represent an example of a very wide geographical distribution of a brooding deep-sea annelid with a complex reproduction strategy and seemingly very limited dispersal capacity of its offspring, and highlights the importance of molecular information from museum specimens for integrative annelid taxonomy and biogeography.

RevDate: 2024-01-17

Rowe AG, Bataille CP, Baleka S, et al (2024)

A female woolly mammoth's lifetime movements end in an ancient Alaskan hunter-gatherer camp.

Science advances, 10(3):eadk0818.

Woolly mammoths in mainland Alaska overlapped with the region's first people for at least a millennium. However, it is unclear how mammoths used the space shared with people. Here, we use detailed isotopic analyses of a female mammoth tusk found in a 14,000-year-old archaeological site to show that she moved ~1000 kilometers from northwestern Canada to inhabit an area with the highest density of early archaeological sites in interior Alaska until her death. DNA from the tusk and other local contemporaneous archaeological mammoth remains revealed that multiple mammoth herds congregated in this region. Early Alaskans seem to have structured their settlements partly based on mammoth prevalence and made use of mammoths for raw materials and likely food.

RevDate: 2024-01-16

Grasso G, Bianciotto V, R Marmeisse (2024)

Paleomicrobiology: Tracking the past microbial life from single species to entire microbial communities.

Microbial biotechnology [Epub ahead of print].

By deciphering information encoded in degraded ancient DNA extracted from up to million-years-old samples, molecular paleomicrobiology enables to objectively retrace the temporal evolution of microbial species and communities. Assembly of full-length genomes of ancient pathogen lineages allows not only to follow historical epidemics in space and time but also to identify the acquisition of genetic features that represent landmarks in the evolution of the host-microbe interaction. Analysis of microbial community DNA extracted from essentially human paleo-artefacts (paleofeces, dental calculi) evaluates the relative contribution of diet, lifestyle and geography on the taxonomic and functional diversity of these guilds in which have been identified species that may have gone extinct in today's human microbiome. As for non-host-associated environmental samples, such as stratified sediment cores, analysis of their DNA illustrates how and at which pace microbial communities are affected by local or widespread environmental disturbance. Description of pre-disturbance microbial diversity patterns can aid in evaluating the relevance and effectiveness of remediation policies. We finally discuss how recent achievements in paleomicrobiology could contribute to microbial biotechnology in the fields of medical microbiology and food science to trace the domestication of microorganisms used in food processing or to illustrate the historic evolution of food processing microbial consortia.

RevDate: 2024-01-12

Wong C (2024)

Ancient DNA reveals first known case of sex-development disorder.

RevDate: 2024-01-12

Borodko DD, Zhenilo SV, FS Sharko (2023)

Search for differentially methylated regions in ancient and modern genomes.

Vavilovskii zhurnal genetiki i selektsii, 27(7):820-828.

Currently, active research is focused on investigating the mechanisms that regulate the development of various pathologies and their evolutionary dynamics. Epigenetic mechanisms, such as DNA methylation, play a significant role in evolutionary processes, as their changes have a faster impact on the phenotype compared to mutagenesis. In this study, we attempted to develop an algorithm for identifying differentially methylated regions associated with metabolic syndrome, which have undergone methylation changes in humans during the transition from a hunter-gatherer to a sedentary lifestyle. The application of existing whole-genome bisulfite sequencing methods is limited for ancient samples due to their low quality and fragmentation, and the approach to obtaining DNA methylation profiles differs significantly between ancient hunter-gatherer samples and modern tissues. In this study, we validated DamMet, an algorithm for reconstructing ancient methylomes. Application of DamMet to Neanderthal and Denisovan genomes showed a moderate level of correlation with previously published methylation profiles and demonstrated an underestimation of methylation levels in the reconstructed profiles by an average of 15-20 %. Additionally, we developed a new Python-based algorithm that allows for the comparison of methylomes in ancient and modern samples, despite the absence of methylation profiles in modern bone tissue within the context of obesity. This analysis involves a two-step data processing approach, where the first step involves the identification and filtration of tissue-specific methylation regions, and the second step focuses on the direct search for differentially methylated regions in specific areas associated with the researcher's target condition. By applying this algorithm to test data, we identified 38 differentially methylated regions associated with obesity, the majority of which were located in promoter regions. The pipeline demonstrated sufficient efficiency in detecting these regions. These results confirm the feasibility of reconstructing DNA methylation profiles in ancient samples and comparing them with modern methylomes. Furthermore, possibilities for further methodological development and the implementation of a new step for studying differentially methylated positions associated with evolutionary processes are discussed.

RevDate: 2024-01-11

Anastasiadou K, Silva M, Booth T, et al (2024)

Detection of chromosomal aneuploidy in ancient genomes.

Communications biology, 7(1):14.

Ancient DNA is a valuable tool for investigating genetic and evolutionary history that can also provide detailed profiles of the lives of ancient individuals. In this study, we develop a generalised computational approach to detect aneuploidies (atypical autosomal and sex chromosome karyotypes) in the ancient genetic record and distinguish such karyotypes from contamination. We confirm that aneuploidies can be detected even in low-coverage genomes (~ 0.0001-fold), common in ancient DNA. We apply this method to ancient skeletal remains from Britain to document the first instance of mosaic Turner syndrome (45,X0/46,XX) in the ancient genetic record in an Iron Age individual sequenced to average 9-fold coverage, the earliest known incidence of an individual with a 47,XYY karyotype from the Early Medieval period, as well as individuals with Klinefelter (47,XXY) and Down syndrome (47,XY, + 21). Overall, our approach provides an accessible and automated framework allowing for the detection of individuals with aneuploidies, which extends previous binary approaches. This tool can facilitate the interpretation of burial context and living conditions, as well as elucidate past perceptions of biological sex and people with diverse biological traits.

RevDate: 2024-01-11

Curry A (2024)

Ancient DNA ties modern diseases to ancestry.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 383(6679):138-139.

Among Europeans, risk of multiple sclerosis rises with genes from Bronze Age Yamnaya herders.

RevDate: 2024-01-10

Barrie W, Yang Y, Irving-Pease EK, et al (2024)

Elevated genetic risk for multiple sclerosis emerged in steppe pastoralist populations.

Nature, 625(7994):321-328.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neuro-inflammatory and neurodegenerative disease that is most prevalent in Northern Europe. Although it is known that inherited risk for MS is located within or in close proximity to immune-related genes, it is unknown when, where and how this genetic risk originated[1]. Here, by using a large ancient genome dataset from the Mesolithic period to the Bronze Age[2], along with new Medieval and post-Medieval genomes, we show that the genetic risk for MS rose among pastoralists from the Pontic steppe and was brought into Europe by the Yamnaya-related migration approximately 5,000 years ago. We further show that these MS-associated immunogenetic variants underwent positive selection both within the steppe population and later in Europe, probably driven by pathogenic challenges coinciding with changes in diet, lifestyle and population density. This study highlights the critical importance of the Neolithic period and Bronze Age as determinants of modern immune responses and their subsequent effect on the risk of developing MS in a changing environment.

RevDate: 2024-01-10

Reardon S (2024)

Ancient DNA reveals origins of multiple sclerosis in Europe.

RevDate: 2024-01-10

Scaggion C, Marinato M, Dal Sasso G, et al (2024)

A fresh perspective on infrared spectroscopy as a prescreening method for molecular and stable isotopes analyses on ancient human bones.

Scientific reports, 14(1):1028.

Following the development of modern genome sequencing technologies, the investigation of museum osteological finds is increasingly informative and popular. Viable protocols to help preserve these collections from exceedingly invasive analyses, would allow greater access to the specimens for scientific research. The main aim of this work is to survey skeletal tissues, specifically petrous bones and roots of teeth, using infrared spectroscopy as a prescreening method to assess the bone quality for molecular analyses. This approach could overcome the major problem of identifying useful genetic material in archaeological bone collections without resorting to demanding, time consuming and expensive laboratory studies. A minimally invasive sampling of archaeological bones was developed and bone structural and compositional changes were examined, linking isotopic and genetic data to infrared spectra. The predictive model based on Infrared parameters is effective in determining the occurrence of ancient DNA (aDNA); however, the quality/quantity of aDNA cannot be determined because of the influence of environmental and local factors experienced by the examined bones during the burial period.

RevDate: 2024-01-09

Bellwood P (2024)

Archaeogenetics: Tracing ancient migrations from the Yellow River.

Current biology : CB, 34(1):R18-R20.

Migration from the Yellow River homeland of Sino-Tibetan languages and people has impacted humans in East Asia for more than 6,000 years. A new study of ancient DNA from southwest China reveals an important component of this migration history.

RevDate: 2024-01-08

Lammers Y, Taberlet P, Coissac E, et al (2024)

Multiplexing PCR allows the identification of within-species genetic diversity in ancient eDNA.

Molecular ecology resources [Epub ahead of print].

Sedimentary ancient DNA (sedaDNA) has rarely been used to obtain population-level data due to either a lack of taxonomic resolution for the molecular method used, limitations in the reference material or inefficient methods. Here, we present the potential of multiplexing different PCR primers to retrieve population-level genetic data from sedaDNA samples. Vaccinium uliginosum (Ericaceae) is a widespread species with a circumpolar distribution and three lineages in present-day populations. We searched 18 plastid genomes for intraspecific variable regions and developed 61 primer sets to target these. Initial multiplex PCR testing resulted in a final set of 38 primer sets. These primer sets were used to analyse 20 lake sedaDNA samples (11,200 cal. yr BP to present) from five different localities in northern Norway, the Alps and the Polar Urals. All known V. uliginosum lineages in these regions and all primer sets could be recovered from the sedaDNA data. For each sample on average 28.1 primer sets, representing 34.15 sequence variants, were recovered. All sediment samples were dominated by a single lineage, except three Alpine samples which had co-occurrence of two different lineages. Furthermore, lineage turnover was observed in the Alps and northern Norway, suggesting that present-day phylogeographical studies may overlook past genetic patterns. Multiplexing primer is a promising tool for generating population-level genetic information from sedaDNA. The relatively simple method, combined with high sensitivity, provides a scalable method which will allow researchers to track populations through time and space using environmental DNA.

RevDate: 2024-01-05

Hipp AL, D Lazic (2024)

Ancient tree genomes for old questions.

Molecular ecology [Epub ahead of print].

Most foundational work on the evolution and migration of plant species relies on genomic data from contemporary samples. Ancient plant samples can give us access to allele sequences and distributions on the landscape dating back to the mid Holocene or earlier (Gugerli et al., 2005). Nuclear DNA from ancient wood, however, has been mostly inaccessible until now. In a From the Cover article in this issue of Molecular Ecology, Wagner et al. (2023) present the first resequenced nuclear genomes from ancient oak wood, including two samples dated to the 15th century and one that dates to more than 3500 years ago. These ancient tree genomes open the possibility for investigating species adaptation, migration, divergence, and hybridisation in the deep past. They pave the way for what we hope will be a new era in the use of paleogenomics to study Holocene tree histories.

RevDate: 2024-01-04

Barrie W, Irving-Pease EK, Willerslev E, et al (2024)

Ancient DNA reveals evolutionary origins of autoimmune diseases.

Nature reviews. Immunology [Epub ahead of print].

RevDate: 2024-01-04

Sharko FS, Boulygina ES, Tsygankova SV, et al (2024)

Koban culture genome-wide and archeological data open the bridge between Bronze and Iron Ages in the North Caucasus.

European journal of human genetics : EJHG [Epub ahead of print].

The North Caucasus played a key role during the ancient colonization of Eurasia and the formation of its cultural and genetic ancestry. Previous archeogenetic studies described a relative genetic and cultural continuity of ancient Caucasus societies, since the Eneolithic period. The Koban culture, which formed in the Late Bronze Age on the North Caucasian highlands, is considered as a cultural "bridge" between the ancient and modern autochthonous peoples of the Caucasus. Here, we discuss the place of this archeological culture and its representatives in the genetic orbit of Caucasian cultures using genome-wide SNP data from five individuals of the Koban culture and one individual of the early Alanic culture as well as previously published genomic data of ancient and modern North Caucasus individuals. Ancient DNA analysis shows that an ancient individual from Klin-Yar III, who was previously described as male, was in fact a female. Additional studies on well-preserved ancient human specimens are necessary to determine the level of local mobility and kinship between individuals in ancient societies of North Caucasus. Further studies with a larger sample size will allow us gain a deeper understanding of this topic.

RevDate: 2024-01-04

Caduff M, Eckel R, Leuenberger C, et al (2024)

Accurate Bayesian inference of sex chromosome karyotypes and sex-linked scaffolds from low-depth sequencing data.

Molecular ecology resources [Epub ahead of print].

The identification of sex-linked scaffolds and the genetic sex of individuals, i.e. their sex karyotype, is a fundamental step in population genomic studies. If sex-linked scaffolds are known, single individuals may be sexed based on read counts of next-generation sequencing data. If both sex-linked scaffolds as well as sex karyotypes are unknown, as is often the case for non-model organisms, they have to be jointly inferred. For both cases, current methods rely on arbitrary thresholds, which limits their power for low-depth data. In addition, most current methods are limited to euploid sex karyotypes (XX and XY). Here we develop BeXY, a fully Bayesian method to jointly infer the posterior probabilities for each scaffold to be autosomal, X- or Y-linked and for each individual to be any of the sex karyotypes XX, XY, X0, XXX, XXY, XYY and XXYY. If the sex-linked scaffolds are known, it also identifies autosomal trisomies and estimates the sex karyotype posterior probabilities for single individuals. As we show with downsampling experiments, BeXY has higher power than all existing methods. It accurately infers the sex karyotype of ancient human samples with as few as 20,000 reads and accurately infers sex-linked scaffolds from data sets of just a handful of samples or with highly imbalanced sex ratios, also in the case of low-quality reference assemblies. We illustrate the power of BeXY by applying it to both whole-genome shotgun and target enrichment sequencing data of ancient and modern humans, as well as several non-model organisms.

RevDate: 2024-01-03

Yang S, Sun X, Jin L, et al (2024)

Inferring language dispersal patterns with velocity field estimation.

Nature communications, 15(1):190.

Reconstructing the spatial evolution of languages can deepen our understanding of the demic diffusion and cultural spread. However, the phylogeographic approach that is frequently used to infer language dispersal patterns has limitations, primarily because the phylogenetic tree cannot fully explain the language evolution induced by the horizontal contact among languages, such as borrowing and areal diffusion. Here, we introduce the language velocity field estimation, which does not rely on the phylogenetic tree, to infer language dispersal trajectories and centre. Its effectiveness and robustness are verified through both simulated and empirical validations. Using language velocity field estimation, we infer the dispersal patterns of four agricultural language families and groups, encompassing approximately 700 language samples. Our results show that the dispersal trajectories of these languages are primarily compatible with population movement routes inferred from ancient DNA and archaeological materials, and their dispersal centres are geographically proximate to ancient homelands of agricultural or Neolithic cultures. Our findings highlight that the agricultural languages dispersed alongside the demic diffusions and cultural spreads during the past 10,000 years. We expect that language velocity field estimation could aid the spatial analysis of language evolution and further branch out into the studies of demographic and cultural dynamics.

RevDate: 2024-01-01

Abondio P, Bruno F, Passarino G, et al (2023)

Pangenomics: a new era in the field of neurodegenerative diseases.

Ageing research reviews pii:S1568-1637(23)00339-2 [Epub ahead of print].

A pangenome is composed of all the genetic variability of a group of individuals, and its application to the study of neurodegenerative diseases may provide valuable insights into the underlying aspects of genetic heterogenetiy for these complex ailments, including gene expression, epigenetics, and translation mechanisms. Furthermore, a reference pangenome allows for the identification of previously undetected structural commonalities and differences among individuals, which may help in the diagnosis of a disease, support the prediction of what will happen over time (prognosis) and aid in developing novel treatments in the perspective of personalized medicine. Therefore, in the present review, the application of the pangenome concept to the study of neurodegenerative diseases will be discussed and analyzed for its potential to enable an improvement in diagnosis and prognosis for these illnesses, leading to the development of tailored treatments for individual patients from the knowledge of the genomic composition of a whole population.

RevDate: 2023-12-27

Srigyan M, Schubert BW, Bushell M, et al (2023)

Mitogenomic analysis of a late Pleistocene jaguar from North America.

The Journal of heredity pii:7502715 [Epub ahead of print].

The jaguar (Panthera onca) is the largest living cat species native to the Americas and one of few large American carnivorans to have survived into the Holocene. However, the extent to which jaguar diversity declined during the end-Pleistocene extinction event remains unclear. For example, Pleistocene jaguar fossils from North America are notably larger than the average extant jaguar, leading to hypotheses that jaguars from this continent represent a now-extinct subspecies (Panthera onca augusta) or species (Panthera augusta). Here, we used a hybridization capture approach to recover an ancient mitochondrial genome from a large, late Pleistocene jaguar from Kingston Saltpeter Cave, Georgia, USA, which we sequenced to 26-fold coverage. We then estimated the evolutionary relationship between the ancient jaguar mitogenome and those from other extinct and living large felids, including multiple jaguars sampled across the species' current range. The ancient mitogenome falls within the diversity of living jaguars. All sampled jaguar mitogenomes share a common mitochondrial ancestor ~400 thousand years ago, indicating that the lineage represented by the ancient specimen dispersed into North America from the south at least once during the late Pleistocene. While genomic data from additional and older specimens will continue to improve understanding of Pleistocene jaguar diversity in the Americas, our results suggest that this specimen falls within the variation of extant jaguars despite the relatively larger size and geographic location and does not represent a distinct taxon.

RevDate: 2023-12-27

de Flamingh A, Gnoske TP, Rivera-Colón AG, et al (2023)

Genomic analysis supports Cape Lion population connectivity prior to colonial eradication and extinction.

The Journal of heredity pii:7502716 [Epub ahead of print].

Cape lions (Panthera leo melanochaitus) formerly ranged throughout the grassland plains of the "Cape Flats" in what is today known as the Western Cape Province, South Africa. Cape lions were likely eradicated because of overhunting and habitat loss after European colonization. European naturalists originally described Cape lions as "Black-maned lions" and claimed that they were phenotypically distinct. However, other depictions and historical descriptions of lions from the Cape report mixed or light coloration and without black or extensively developed manes. These findings suggest that, rather than forming a distinct population, Cape lions may have had phenotypic and genotypic variation similar to other African lions. Here we investigate Cape lion genome characteristics, population dynamics, and genetic distinctiveness prior to their extinction. We generated genomic data from two historic Cape lions to compare to 118 existing high-coverage mitogenomes, and low-coverage nuclear genomes of 53 lions from 13 African countries. We show that, before their eradication, lions from the Cape Flats had diverse mitogenomes and nuclear genomes that clustered with lions from both southern and eastern Africa. Cape lions had high genome-wide heterozygosity and low inbreeding coefficients, indicating that populations in the Cape Flats went extinct so rapidly that genomic effects associated with long-term small population size and isolation were not detectable. Our findings do not support the characterization of Cape lions as phylogeographically distinct, as originally put forth by some European naturalists, and illustrates how alternative knowledge-systems, e.g., Indigenous perspectives, could potentially further inform interpretations of species' life histories.

RevDate: 2023-12-22

Panitsina VA, Bodrov SY, Boulygina ES, et al (2023)

In Search of the Elusive North: Evolutionary History of the Arctic Fox (Vulpes lagopus) in the Palearctic from the Late Pleistocene to the Recent Inferred from Mitogenomic Data.

Biology, 12(12): pii:biology12121517.

Despite the high level of interest, the population history of arctic foxes during the Late Pleistocene and Holocene remains poorly understood. Here we aimed to fill gaps in the demographic and colonization history of the arctic fox by analyzing new ancient DNA data from fossil specimens aged from 50 to 1 thousand years from the Northern and Polar Urals, historic DNA from museum specimens from the Novaya Zemlya Archipelago and the Taymyr Peninsula and supplementing these data by previously published sequences of recent and extinct arctic foxes from other regions. This dataset was used for reconstruction of a time-calibrated phylogeny and a temporal haplotype network covering four time intervals: Late Pleistocene (ranging from 30 to 13 thousand years bp), Holocene (ranging from 4 to 1 thousand years bp), historical (approximately 150 years), and modern. Our results revealed that Late Pleistocene specimens showed no genetic similarity to either modern or historical specimens, thus supporting the earlier hypothesis on local extinction rather than habitat tracking.

RevDate: 2023-12-22

Lien A, Legori LP, Kraft L, et al (2023)

Benchmarking software tools for trimming adapters and merging next-generation sequencing data for ancient DNA.

Frontiers in bioinformatics, 3:1260486.

Ancient DNA is highly degraded, resulting in very short sequences. Reads generated with modern high-throughput sequencing machines are generally longer than ancient DNA molecules, therefore the reads often contain some portion of the sequencing adaptors. It is crucial to remove those adaptors, as they can interfere with downstream analysis. Furthermore, overlapping portions when DNA has been read forward and backward (paired-end) can be merged to correct sequencing errors and improve read quality. Several tools have been developed for adapter trimming and read merging, however, no one has attempted to evaluate their accuracy and evaluate their potential impact on downstream analyses. Through the simulation of sequencing data, seven commonly used tools were analyzed in their ability to reconstruct ancient DNA sequences through read merging. The analyzed tools exhibit notable differences in their abilities to correct sequence errors and identify the correct read overlap, but the most substantial difference is observed in their ability to calculate quality scores for merged bases. Selecting the most appropriate tool for a given project depends on several factors, although some tools such as fastp have some shortcomings, whereas others like leeHom outperform the other tools in most aspects. While the choice of tool did not result in a measurable difference when analyzing population genetics using principal component analysis, it is important to note that downstream analyses that are sensitive to wrongly merged reads or that rely on quality scores can be significantly impacted by the choice of tool.

RevDate: 2023-12-20

Ringbauer H, Huang Y, Akbari A, et al (2023)

Accurate detection of identity-by-descent segments in human ancient DNA.

Nature genetics [Epub ahead of print].

Long DNA segments shared between two individuals, known as identity-by-descent (IBD), reveal recent genealogical connections. Here we introduce ancIBD, a method for identifying IBD segments in ancient human DNA (aDNA) using a hidden Markov model and imputed genotype probabilities. We demonstrate that ancIBD accurately identifies IBD segments >8 cM for aDNA data with an average depth of >0.25× for whole-genome sequencing or >1× for 1240k single nucleotide polymorphism capture data. Applying ancIBD to 4,248 ancient Eurasian individuals, we identify relatives up to the sixth degree and genealogical connections between archaeological groups. Notably, we reveal long IBD sharing between Corded Ware and Yamnaya groups, indicating that the Yamnaya herders of the Pontic-Caspian Steppe and the Steppe-related ancestry in various European Corded Ware groups share substantial co-ancestry within only a few hundred years. These results show that detecting IBD segments can generate powerful insights into the growing aDNA record, both on a small scale relevant to life stories and on a large scale relevant to major cultural-historical events.

RevDate: 2023-12-20

Silva M, Booth T, Moore J, et al (2023)

An individual with Sarmatian-related ancestry in Roman Britain.

Current biology : CB pii:S0960-9822(23)01634-2 [Epub ahead of print].

In the second century CE the Roman Empire had increasing contact with Sarmatians, nomadic Iranian speakers occupying an area stretching from the Pontic-Caspian steppe to the Carpathian mountains, both in the Caucasus and in the Danubian borders of the empire.[1][,][2][,][3] In 175 CE, following their defeat in the Marcomannic Wars, emperor Marcus Aurelius drafted Sarmatian cavalry into Roman legions and deployed 5,500 Sarmatian soldiers to Britain, as recorded by contemporary historian Cassius Dio.[4][,][5] Little is known about where the Sarmatian cavalry were stationed, and no individuals connected with this historically attested event have been identified to date, leaving its impact on Britain largely unknown. Here we document Caucasus- and Sarmatian-related ancestry in the whole genome of a Roman-period individual (126-228 calibrated [cal.] CE)-an outlier without traceable ancestry related to local populations in Britain-recovered from a farmstead site in present-day Cambridgeshire, UK. Stable isotopes support a life history of mobility during childhood. Although several scenarios are possible, the historical deployment of Sarmatians to Britain provides a parsimonious explanation for this individual's extraordinary life history. Regardless of the factors behind his migrations, these results highlight how long-range mobility facilitated by the Roman Empire impacted provincial locations outside of urban centers.

RevDate: 2023-12-14

Fiddaman SR, Dimopoulos EA, Lebrasseur O, et al (2023)

Ancient chicken remains reveal the origins of virulence in Marek's disease virus.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 382(6676):1276-1281.

The pronounced growth in livestock populations since the 1950s has altered the epidemiological and evolutionary trajectory of their associated pathogens. For example, Marek's disease virus (MDV), which causes lymphoid tumors in chickens, has experienced a marked increase in virulence over the past century. Today, MDV infections kill >90% of unvaccinated birds, and controlling it costs more than US$1 billion annually. By sequencing MDV genomes derived from archeological chickens, we demonstrate that it has been circulating for at least 1000 years. We functionally tested the Meq oncogene, one of 49 viral genes positively selected in modern strains, demonstrating that ancient MDV was likely incapable of driving tumor formation. Our results demonstrate the power of ancient DNA approaches to trace the molecular basis of virulence in economically relevant pathogens.

RevDate: 2023-12-13

Reis ALM, Rapadas M, Hammond JM, et al (2023)

The landscape of genomic structural variation in Indigenous Australians.

Nature [Epub ahead of print].

Indigenous Australians harbour rich and unique genomic diversity. However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestries are historically under-represented in genomics research and almost completely missing from reference datasets[1-3]. Addressing this representation gap is critical, both to advance our understanding of global human genomic diversity and as a prerequisite for ensuring equitable outcomes in genomic medicine. Here we apply population-scale whole-genome long-read sequencing[4] to profile genomic structural variation across four remote Indigenous communities. We uncover an abundance of large insertion-deletion variants (20-49 bp; n = 136,797), structural variants (50 b-50 kb; n = 159,912) and regions of variable copy number (>50 kb; n = 156). The majority of variants are composed of tandem repeat or interspersed mobile element sequences (up to 90%) and have not been previously annotated (up to 62%). A large fraction of structural variants appear to be exclusive to Indigenous Australians (12% lower-bound estimate) and most of these are found in only a single community, underscoring the need for broad and deep sampling to achieve a comprehensive catalogue of genomic structural variation across the Australian continent. Finally, we explore short tandem repeats throughout the genome to characterize allelic diversity at 50 known disease loci[5], uncover hundreds of novel repeat expansion sites within protein-coding genes, and identify unique patterns of diversity and constraint among short tandem repeat sequences. Our study sheds new light on the dimensions and dynamics of genomic structural variation within and beyond Australia.

RevDate: 2023-12-13

Pilowsky JA, Brown SC, Llamas B, et al (2023)

Millennial processes of population decline, range contraction and near extinction of the European bison.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 290(2013):20231095.

European bison (Bison bonasus) were widespread throughout Europe during the late Pleistocene. However, the contributions of environmental change and humans to their near extinction have never been resolved. Using process-explicit models, fossils and ancient DNA, we disentangle the combinations of threatening processes that drove population declines and regional extinctions of European bison through space and across time. We show that the population size of European bison declined abruptly at the termination of the Pleistocene in response to rapid environmental change, hunting by humans and their interaction. Human activities prevented populations of European bison from rebounding in the Holocene, despite improved environmental conditions. Hunting caused range loss in the north and east of its distribution, while land use change was responsible for losses in the west and south. Advances in hunting technologies from 1500 CE were needed to simulate low abundances observed in 1870 CE. While our findings show that humans were an important driver of the extinction of the European bison in the wild, vast areas of its range vanished during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition because of post-glacial environmental change. These areas of its former range have been climatically unsuitable for millennia and should not be considered in reintroduction efforts.

RevDate: 2023-12-11

Cox SL, Nicklisch N, Francken M, et al (2023)

Socio-cultural practices may have affected sex differences in stature in Early Neolithic Europe.

Nature human behaviour [Epub ahead of print].

The rules and structure of human culture impact health as much as genetics or environment. To study these relationships, we combine ancient DNA (n = 230), skeletal metrics (n = 391), palaeopathology (n = 606) and dietary stable isotopes (n = 873) to analyse stature variation in Early Neolithic Europeans from North Central, South Central, Balkan and Mediterranean regions. In North Central Europe, stable isotopes and linear enamel hypoplasias indicate high environmental stress across sexes, but female stature is low, despite polygenic scores identical to males, and suggests that cultural factors preferentially supported male recovery from stress. In Mediterranean populations, sexual dimorphism is reduced, indicating male vulnerability to stress and no strong cultural preference for males. Our analysis indicates that biological effects of sex-specific inequities can be linked to cultural influences at least as early as 7,000 yr ago, and culture, more than environment or genetics, drove height disparities in Early Neolithic Europe.

RevDate: 2023-12-09

Bruno F, Aceto MA, Abondio P, et al (2023)

Occupation, Literacy, Anthropometric Traits, and Life Expectancy of Italian Men Born 1900-1910: Evidence From Military Conscription Registers.

Journal of aging and health [Epub ahead of print].

OBJECTIVE: The aim is to explore the role of anthropometric traits and sociodemographic characteristics on human survival.

METHODS: Anthropometrics and sociodemographic data of 1944 conscripts born in the first decade of the 20th century in rural municipalities of Calabria (Southern Italy) who underwent medical examinations for military service were collected. Medical examinations were linked to individual survival data.

RESULTS: Height and type of occupation influenced life expectancy. For taller men, the risk of mortality increases by about 20% when compared with men with middle height, while farmers exhibited a significant survival advantage compared to those with other working experiences.

DISCUSSION: Height and type of occupation were associated with human mortality. These results are likely to be related to the effect of healthy dietary patterns and physical activity on life expectancy. Further studies are needed to understand to what extent these results obtained in a rural context can be generalized to other contexts.

RevDate: 2023-12-08

Olalde I, Carrión P, Mikić I, et al (2023)

A genetic history of the Balkans from Roman frontier to Slavic migrations.

Cell, 186(25):5472-5485.e9.

The rise and fall of the Roman Empire was a socio-political process with enormous ramifications for human history. The Middle Danube was a crucial frontier and a crossroads for population and cultural movement. Here, we present genome-wide data from 136 Balkan individuals dated to the 1[st] millennium CE. Despite extensive militarization and cultural influence, we find little ancestry contribution from peoples of Italic descent. However, we trace a large-scale influx of people of Anatolian ancestry during the Imperial period. Between ∼250 and 550 CE, we detect migrants with ancestry from Central/Northern Europe and the Steppe, confirming that "barbarian" migrations were propelled by ethnically diverse confederations. Following the end of Roman control, we detect the large-scale arrival of individuals who were genetically similar to modern Eastern European Slavic-speaking populations, who contributed 30%-60% of the ancestry of Balkan people, representing one of the largest permanent demographic changes anywhere in Europe during the Migration Period.

RevDate: 2023-12-07

Grasso G, Rotunno S, Debruyne R, et al (2024)

Identification of DNA Viruses in Ancient DNA from Herbarium Samples.

Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.), 2732:221-234.

Herbaria encompass millions of plant specimens, mostly collected in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that can represent a key resource for investigating the history and evolution of phytopathogens. In the last years, the application of high-throughput sequencing technologies for the analysis of ancient nucleic acids has revolutionized the study of ancient pathogens including viruses, allowing the reconstruction of historical genomic viral sequences, improving phylogenetic based molecular dating, and providing essential insight into plant virus ecology. In this chapter, we describe a protocol to reconstruct ancient plant and soil viral sequences starting from highly fragmented ancient DNA extracted from herbarium plants and their associated rhizospheric soil. Following Illumina high-throughput sequencing, sequence data are de novo assembled, and DNA viral sequences are selected, according to their similarity with known viruses.

RevDate: 2023-12-06

Peng K, Liu X, Cheng H, et al (2023)

Characterization of driving factors for the long-term succession of bloom-forming cyanobacterial genera in Lake Erhai, southwest China.

Journal of environmental management, 351:119729 pii:S0301-4797(23)02517-3 [Epub ahead of print].

Cyanobacterial blooms pose a global environmental concern, with various genera contributing to their formation. The harmfulness of cyanobacterial blooms varies depending on the specific genus, yet the factors triggering their formation remain incompletely understood. This study conducted qPCR of sediment DNA in Lake Erhai to reconstruct the historical succession of three common bloom-forming cyanobacterial genera (i.e., Microcystis, Dolichospermum, and Aphanizomenon). The driving factors and their corresponding thresholds were identified, and human activities related to driving factors were evaluated. The results revealed two successions in the past century. The first succession transitioned from Aphanizomenon (1902-1978) to Microcystis and Dolichospermum (1978-1999), driven by TN:TP and TP. The second succession shifted from Microcystis and Dolichospermum (1978-1999) to Microcystis (1999-2010), driven by TP, TN:TP, and temperature. The thresholds of TP and TN:TP for the Microcystis bloom were 0.023 mg/L and 17, respectively. TN:TP was significantly influenced by domestic pollution and crop farming in both successions, while TP was significantly impacted by domestic pollution in the first succession and by pollution from crop and dairy farming in the second succession. These results shed light on the underlying mechanism responsible for the blooms of various cyanobacterial genera and could serve as a valuable reference for effectively preventing and controlling nutrient input in the watershed.

RevDate: 2023-12-05

Wroblewski TH, Witt KE, Lee SB, et al (2023)

Pharmacogenetic variation in Neanderthals and Denisovans and implications for human health and response to medications.

Genome biology and evolution pii:7459155 [Epub ahead of print].

Modern humans carry both Neanderthal and Denisovan (archaic) genome elements that are part of the human gene pool and affect the life and health of living individuals. The impact of archaic DNA may be particularly evident in pharmacogenes - genes responsible for the processing of exogenous substances such as food, pollutants, and medications - as these can relate to changing environmental effects, and beneficial variants may have been retained as modern humans encountered new environments. However, the health implications and contribution of archaic ancestry in pharmacogenes of modern humans remain understudied. Here, we explore eleven key cytochrome P450 genes (CYP450) involved in 75% of all drug metabolizing reactions in three Neanderthal and one Denisovan individuals and examine archaic introgression in modern human populations. We infer the metabolizing efficiency of these eleven CYP450 genes in archaic individuals and find important predicted phenotypic differences relative to modern human variants. We identify several single nucleotide variants shared between archaic and modern humans in each gene, including some potentially function-altering mutations in archaic CYP450 genes, which may result in altered metabolism in living people carrying these variants. We also identified several variants in the archaic CYP450 genes that are novel and unique to archaic humans as well as one gene, CYP2B6, that shows evidence for a gene duplication found only in Neanderthals and modern Africans. Finally, we highlight CYP2A6, CYP2C9, and CYP2J2, genes which show evidence for archaic introgression into modern humans and posit evolutionary hypotheses that explain their allele frequencies in modern populations.

RevDate: 2023-12-04

Xiao B, Rey-Lglesia A, Yuan J, et al (2023)

Relationships of Late Pleistocene giant deer as revealed by Sinomegaceros mitogenomes from East Asia.

iScience, 26(12):108406.

The giant deer, widespread in northern Eurasia during the Late Pleistocene, have been classified as western Megaloceros and eastern Sinomegaceros through morphological studies. While Megaloceros's evolutionary history has been unveiled through mitogenomes, Sinomegaceros remains molecularly unexplored. Herein, we generated mitogenomes of giant deer from East Asia. We find that, in contrast to the morphological differences between Megaloceros and Sinomegaceros, they are mixed in the mitochondrial phylogeny, and Siberian specimens suggest a range contact or overlap between these two groups. Meanwhile, one deep divergent clade and another surviving until 20.1 thousand years ago (ka) were detected in northeastern China, the latter implying this area as a potential refugium during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). Moreover, stable isotope analyses indicate correlations between climate-introduced vegetation changes and giant deer extinction. Our study demonstrates the genetic relationship between eastern and western giant deer and explores the promoters of their extirpation in northern East Asia.


RJR Experience and Expertise


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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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

short personal version

Curriculum Vitae for R J Robbins

long standard version

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