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29 Sep 2022 at 02:20
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Bibliography on: Paleontology Meets Genomics — Sequencing Ancient DNA


Robert J. Robbins is a biologist, an educator, a science administrator, a publisher, an information technologist, and an IT leader and manager who specializes in advancing biomedical knowledge and supporting education through the application of information technology. More About:  RJR | OUR TEAM | OUR SERVICES | THIS WEBSITE

RJR: Recommended Bibliography 29 Sep 2022 at 02:20 Created: 

Paleontology Meets Genomics — Sequencing Ancient DNA

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

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

Citations The Papers (from PubMed®)


RevDate: 2022-09-28

Connah K, Michael B, C Brassey (2022)

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

MethodsX, 9:101849.

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

RevDate: 2022-09-28
CmpDate: 2022-09-28

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

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

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

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

RevDate: 2022-09-28

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

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

Frontiers in genetics, 13:945227.

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

RevDate: 2022-09-24

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

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

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

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

RevDate: 2022-09-23

Bellanger N, Dereeper A, R Koebnik (2022)

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

Microorganisms, 10(9): pii:microorganisms10091715.

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

RevDate: 2022-09-23

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

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

Animals : an open access journal from MDPI, 12(18): pii:ani12182469.

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

RevDate: 2022-09-21

Anonymous (2022)

Ancient DNA reveals details about early medieval migration into England.

RevDate: 2022-09-21

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

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

Nature [Epub ahead of print].

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

RevDate: 2022-09-20

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

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

Molecular biology and evolution, 39(9):.

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

RevDate: 2022-09-16

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

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

European journal of clinical microbiology & infectious diseases : official publication of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology [Epub ahead of print].

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

RevDate: 2022-09-15

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

The genomic landscape of contemporary western Remote Oceanians.

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

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

RevDate: 2022-09-12

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

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

Nature communications, 13(1):5031.

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

RevDate: 2022-09-08

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

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

Frontiers in genetics, 13:884612 pii:884612.

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

RevDate: 2022-09-07

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

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

Scientific reports, 12(1):15164.

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

RevDate: 2022-09-06

Flux AL, Schultz M, S Hummel (2022)

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

BioTechniques [Epub ahead of print].

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

RevDate: 2022-09-06

Harvati K, RR Ackermann (2022)

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

Nature ecology & evolution [Epub ahead of print].

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

RevDate: 2022-09-02

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

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

bioRxiv : the preprint server for biology.

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

RevDate: 2022-09-01

Gregory MD, KF Berman (2022)

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

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

Kreier F (2022)

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

Nature, 609(7925):21-22.

RevDate: 2022-09-01

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

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

International journal of legal medicine [Epub ahead of print].

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

RevDate: 2022-09-01

Gochi L, Kawai Y, A Fujimoto (2022)

Comprehensive analysis of microsatellite polymorphisms in human populations.

Human genetics [Epub ahead of print].

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

RevDate: 2022-09-01

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

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

Cell reports methods, 2(8):100270 pii:S2667-2375(22)00147-3.

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

RevDate: 2022-08-31

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

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

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

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

RevDate: 2022-08-29

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

Heritage-specific oral microbiota in Indigenous Australian dental calculus.

Evolution, medicine, and public health, 10(1):352-362 pii:eoac024.

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

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

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

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

RevDate: 2022-08-29

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

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

Global change biology [Epub ahead of print].

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

RevDate: 2022-08-28

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

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

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

RevDate: 2022-08-27

Smith-Guzmán NE (2022)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RevDate: 2022-08-26

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

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

Plants (Basel, Switzerland), 11(16): pii:plants11162100.

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

RevDate: 2022-08-26

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

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

Microorganisms, 10(8): pii:microorganisms10081623.

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

RevDate: 2022-08-26

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

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

International journal of molecular sciences, 23(16): pii:ijms23169219.

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

RevDate: 2022-08-26

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

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

Genes, 13(8): pii:genes13081432.

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

RevDate: 2022-08-26

Churchill SE, Keys K, AH Ross (2022)

Midfacial Morphology and Neandertal-Modern Human Interbreeding.

Biology, 11(8): pii:biology11081163.

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

RevDate: 2022-08-25

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

Mammalian genome innovation through transposon domestication.

Nature cell biology [Epub ahead of print].

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

RevDate: 2022-08-25

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

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

Scientific reports, 12(1):14528.

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

RevDate: 2022-08-25

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

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

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

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

RevDate: 2022-08-25

Curry A (2022)

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

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

Studies seek clues to origins of farming, early languages.

RevDate: 2022-08-25

Arbuckle BS, Z Schwandt (2022)

Ancient genomes and West Eurasian history.

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

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

RevDate: 2022-08-25

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

The genetic echo of the Tarim mummies in modern Central Asians.

Molecular biology and evolution pii:6675590 [Epub ahead of print].

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

RevDate: 2022-08-23

Schuenemann VJ (2022)

Ancient DNA: Pathogens caught in the Minoan labyrinth.

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

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

RevDate: 2022-08-23
CmpDate: 2022-08-23

Raveane A, Molinaro L, Aneli S, et al (2022)

Assessing temporal and geographic contacts across the Adriatic Sea through the analysis of genome-wide data from Southern Italy.

Genomics, 114(4):110405.

Southern Italy was characterised by a complex prehistory that started with different Palaeolithic cultures, later followed by the Neolithization and the demic dispersal from the Pontic-Caspian Steppe during the Bronze Age. Archaeological and historical evidences point to a link between Southern Italians and the Balkans still present in modern times. To shed light on these dynamics, we analysed around 700 South Mediterranean genomes combined with informative ancient DNAs. Our findings revealed high affinities of South-Eastern Italians with modern Eastern Peloponnesians, and a closer affinity of ancient Greek genomes with those from specific regions of South Italy than modern Greek genomes. The higher similarity could be associated with a Bronze Age component ultimately originating from the Caucasus with high Iranian and Anatolian Neolithic ancestries. Furthermore, extremely differentiated allele frequencies among Northern and Southern Italy revealed putatively adapted SNPs in genes involved in alcohol metabolism, nevi features and immunological traits.

RevDate: 2022-08-22

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

The immunogenetic impact of European colonization in the Americas.

Frontiers in genetics, 13:918227 pii:918227.

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

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

O'Grady C (2022)

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

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

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

RevDate: 2022-08-12

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

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

PloS one, 17(8):e0271097 pii:PONE-D-21-38583.

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

RevDate: 2022-08-11

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

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

Molecular ecology resources [Epub ahead of print].

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

RevDate: 2022-08-09

Wang R, CC Wang (2022)

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

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

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

RevDate: 2022-08-09

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

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

Molecular ecology [Epub ahead of print].

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

RevDate: 2022-08-09
CmpDate: 2022-08-09

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

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

Scientific reports, 12(1):13474.

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

RevDate: 2022-08-08

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

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

Scientific reports, 12(1):13512.

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

RevDate: 2022-08-05

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

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

Ecology and evolution, 12(8):e9116.

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

RevDate: 2022-08-03

Gregory MD, KF Berman (2022)

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

RevDate: 2022-08-03

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

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

RevDate: 2022-08-03

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

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

Forensic science international. Genetics, 60:102751 pii:S1872-4973(22)00092-8 [Epub ahead of print].

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

RevDate: 2022-07-30

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

Genome sequencing of up to 6,000-yr-old Citrullus seeds reveals use of a bitter-fleshed species prior to watermelon domestication.

Molecular biology and evolution pii:6652436 [Epub ahead of print].

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

RevDate: 2022-07-31

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

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

Frontiers in genetics, 13:872486.

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

RevDate: 2022-07-31
CmpDate: 2022-07-29

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

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

Scientific reports, 12(1):12775.

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

RevDate: 2022-07-26

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

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

Current biology : CB pii:S0960-9822(22)01101-0 [Epub ahead of print].

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

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

Gibert JM (2022)

[Small scale evolution].

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

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

RevDate: 2022-07-26

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

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

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

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

RevDate: 2022-07-26
CmpDate: 2022-07-26

Liu Y, Bennett EA, Q Fu (2022)

Evolving ancient DNA techniques and the future of human history.

Cell, 185(15):2632-2635.

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

RevDate: 2022-07-24

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

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

PloS one, 17(7):e0270067.

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

RevDate: 2022-07-28
CmpDate: 2022-07-28

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

A Late Pleistocene human genome from Southwest China.

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

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

RevDate: 2022-07-18
CmpDate: 2022-07-18

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

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

Scientific reports, 12(1):12045.

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

RevDate: 2022-07-13
CmpDate: 2022-07-13

Estrada O, Richards SM, J Breen (2022)

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

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

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

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

Psonis N, Vardinoyannis K, N Poulakakis (2022)

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

Molecular phylogenetics and evolution, 175:107561.

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

RevDate: 2022-07-16

Marinček P, Wagner ND, S Tomasello (2022)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RevDate: 2022-06-30

Liu X, L Orlando (2022)

mapDATAge: a ShinyR package to chart ancient DNA data through space and time.

Bioinformatics (Oxford, England) pii:6623404 [Epub ahead of print].

SUMMARY: Ancient DNA datasets are increasingly difficult to visualise for users lacking computational experience. Here, we describe mapDATAge, which aims to provide user-friendly automated modules for the interactive mapping of allele, haplogroup and/or ancestry distributions through space and time. mapDATAge enhances collaborative data sharing while assists the assessment and reporting of spatio-temporal patterns of genetic changes.

AVAILABILITY: mapDATAge is a Shiny R application designed for exploring spatiotemporal patterns in ancient DNA data through a graphical user interface (GUI). It is freely available under GNU Public License in Github: https://github.com/xuefenfei712/mapDATAge.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

RevDate: 2022-07-20
CmpDate: 2022-07-15

Bergström A, Stanton DWG, Taron UH, et al (2022)

Grey wolf genomic history reveals a dual ancestry of dogs.

Nature, 607(7918):313-320.

The grey wolf (Canis lupus) was the first species to give rise to a domestic population, and they remained widespread throughout the last Ice Age when many other large mammal species went extinct. Little is known, however, about the history and possible extinction of past wolf populations or when and where the wolf progenitors of the present-day dog lineage (Canis familiaris) lived1-8. Here we analysed 72 ancient wolf genomes spanning the last 100,000 years from Europe, Siberia and North America. We found that wolf populations were highly connected throughout the Late Pleistocene, with levels of differentiation an order of magnitude lower than they are today. This population connectivity allowed us to detect natural selection across the time series, including rapid fixation of mutations in the gene IFT88 40,000-30,000 years ago. We show that dogs are overall more closely related to ancient wolves from eastern Eurasia than to those from western Eurasia, suggesting a domestication process in the east. However, we also found that dogs in the Near East and Africa derive up to half of their ancestry from a distinct population related to modern southwest Eurasian wolves, reflecting either an independent domestication process or admixture from local wolves. None of the analysed ancient wolf genomes is a direct match for either of these dog ancestries, meaning that the exact progenitor populations remain to be located.

RevDate: 2022-08-08

VarGoats Consortium, Nijman IJ, Rosen BD, et al (2022)

Geographical contrasts of Y-chromosomal haplogroups from wild and domestic goats reveal ancient migrations and recent introgressions.

Molecular ecology, 31(16):4364-4380.

By their paternal transmission, Y-chromosomal haplotypes are sensitive markers of population history and male-mediated introgression. Previous studies identified biallelic single-nucleotide variants in the SRY, ZFY and DDX3Y genes, which in domestic goats identified four major Y-chromosomal haplotypes, Y1A, Y1B, Y2A and Y2B, with a marked geographical partitioning. Here, we extracted goat Y-chromosomal variants from whole-genome sequences of 386 domestic goats (75 breeds) and seven wild goat species, which were generated by the VarGoats goat genome project. Phylogenetic analyses indicated domestic haplogroups corresponding to Y1B, Y2A and Y2B, respectively, whereas Y1A is split into Y1AA and Y1AB. All five haplogroups were detected in 26 ancient DNA samples from southeast Europe or Asia. Haplotypes from present-day bezoars are not shared with domestic goats and are attached to deep nodes of the trees and networks. Haplogroup distributions for 186 domestic breeds indicate ancient paternal population bottlenecks and expansions during migrations into northern Europe, eastern and southern Asia, and Africa south of the Sahara. In addition, sharing of haplogroups indicates male-mediated introgressions, most notably an early gene flow from Asian goats into Madagascar and the crossbreeding that in the 19th century resulted in the popular Boer and Anglo-Nubian breeds. More recent introgressions are those from European goats into the native Korean goat population and from Boer goat into Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Zimbabwe. This study illustrates the power of the Y-chromosomal variants for reconstructing the history of domestic species with a wide geographical range.

RevDate: 2022-07-16
CmpDate: 2022-06-28

Toncheva D, Marinova M, Borovska P, et al (2022)

Spatio-temporal dynamics of pathogenic variants associated with monogenic disorders reconstructed with ancient DNA.

PloS one, 17(6):e0269628.

Genetic disease burden in ancient communities has barely been evaluated despite an ever expanding body of ancient genomes becoming available. In this study, we inspect 2729 publicly available ancient genomes (100 BP-52000 BP) for the presence of pathogenic variants in 32643 disease-associated loci. We base our subsequent analyses on 19 variants in seven genes-PAH, EDAR, F11, HBB, LRRK2, SLC12A6 and MAOA, associated with monogenic diseases and with well-established pathogenic impact in contemporary populations. We determine 230 homozygote genotypes of these variants in the screened 2729 ancient DNA samples. Eleven of these are in the PAH gene (126 ancient samples in total), a gene associated with the condition phenylketonuria in modern populations. The variants examined seem to show varying dynamics over the last 10000 years, some exhibiting a single upsurge in frequency and subsequently disappearing, while others maintain high frequency levels (compared to contemporary population frequencies) over long time periods. The geographic distribution and age of the ancient DNA samples with established pathogenic variants suggests multiple independent origin of these variants. Comparison of estimates of the geographic prevalence of these variants from ancient and contemporary data show discontinuity in their prevalence and supports their recurrent emergence. The oldest samples in which a variant is established might give an indication of their age and place origin, and an EDAR gene pathogenic variant was established in a sample estimated to be 33210-32480 calBCE. Knowledge about the historical prevalence of variants causing monogenic disorders provides insight on their emergence, dynamics and spread.

RevDate: 2022-07-21

Nishimura L, Fujito N, Sugimoto R, et al (2022)

Detection of Ancient Viruses and Long-Term Viral Evolution.

Viruses, 14(6):.

The COVID-19 outbreak has reminded us of the importance of viral evolutionary studies as regards comprehending complex viral evolution and preventing future pandemics. A unique approach to understanding viral evolution is the use of ancient viral genomes. Ancient viruses are detectable in various archaeological remains, including ancient people's skeletons and mummified tissues. Those specimens have preserved ancient viral DNA and RNA, which have been vigorously analyzed in the last few decades thanks to the development of sequencing technologies. Reconstructed ancient pathogenic viral genomes have been utilized to estimate the past pandemics of pathogenic viruses within the ancient human population and long-term evolutionary events. Recent studies revealed the existence of non-pathogenic viral genomes in ancient people's bodies. These ancient non-pathogenic viruses might be informative for inferring their relationships with ancient people's diets and lifestyles. Here, we reviewed the past and ongoing studies on ancient pathogenic and non-pathogenic viruses and the usage of ancient viral genomes to understand their long-term viral evolution.

RevDate: 2022-07-16
CmpDate: 2022-06-27

Bodner M, Amory C, Olivieri A, et al (2022)

Helena's Many Daughters: More Mitogenome Diversity behind the Most Common West Eurasian mtDNA Control Region Haplotype in an Extended Italian Population Sample.

International journal of molecular sciences, 23(12):.

The high number of matching haplotypes of the most common mitochondrial (mt)DNA lineages are considered to be the greatest limitation for forensic applications. This study investigates the potential to solve this constraint by massively parallel sequencing a large number of mitogenomes that share the most common West Eurasian mtDNA control region (CR) haplotype motif (263G 315.1C 16519C). We augmented a pilot study on 29 to a total of 216 Italian mitogenomes that represents the largest set of the most common CR haplotype compiled from a single country. The extended population sample confirmed and extended the huge coding region diversity behind the most common CR motif. Complete mitogenome sequencing allowed for the detection of 163 distinct haplotypes, raising the power of discrimination from 0 (CR) to 99.6% (mitogenome). The mtDNAs were clustered into 61 named clades of haplogroup H and did not reveal phylogeographic trends within Italy. Rapid individualization approaches for investigative purposes are limited to the most frequent H clades of the dataset, viz. H1, H3, and H7.

RevDate: 2022-07-29
CmpDate: 2022-07-29

Saldías E, Valdebenito G, Zamora L, et al (2022)

Multidisciplinary analysis of a mummy from the War of the Pacific.

Anthropologischer Anzeiger; Bericht uber die biologisch-anthropologische Literatur, 79(4):451-465.

The War of the Pacific (1879-1884) was a big scale war between Chile against the alliance of Peru and Bolivia. One of the most important battles, the "Batalla del Campo de la Alianza" was situated in the desert near Tacna, Peru. The conditions of this environment favored the conservation of the dead soldiers after many years. Decades ago, the Natural History Museum of Concepción in Chile, received a naturally mummified individual of a probably Chilean soldier as a donation; its uncertain context was never studied nor confirmed. Considering this, our investigation analyzed this body under exploratory methods, ballistic analysis, archaeological contrast, 14C radiocarbon dating, ancient DNA, and isotopic analysis to reconstruct the biological profile of this mummy. The results indicated that the mummy belongs to an adult man between 33-39 years of age (> 1.50 m) and has a perimortem wound in the left flank of the abdomen. CT scan and X-rays revealed the presence of a bullet (Comblain II or Gras) hosted near the L2 vertebra. It is possible that the individual died of bleeding from a gunshot wound done by a long-distance firearm projectile from an inferior level, whose trajectory was from left to right, with slight inclination towards the top, and without a projectile exit. Other analyses confirmed the historical context and suggests the Chilean origin of the mummy. Despite the passage of time and other factors, it was possible to reconstruct the death of this individual thanks to technology and approaches from different disciplines.

RevDate: 2022-06-22

Gelabert P, Blazyte A, Chang Y, et al (2022)

Northeastern Asian and Jomon-related genetic structure in the Three Kingdoms period of Gimhae, Korea.

Current biology : CB pii:S0960-9822(22)00916-2 [Epub ahead of print].

The genetic history of prehistoric and protohistoric Korean populations is not well understood because only a small number of ancient genomes are available. Here, we report the first paleogenomic data from the Korean Three Kingdoms period, a crucial point in the cultural and historic formation of Korea. These data comprise eight shotgun-sequenced genomes from ancient Korea (0.7×-6.1× coverage). They were derived from two archeological sites in Gimhae: the Yuha-ri shell mound and the Daesung-dong tumuli, the latter being the most important funerary complex of the Gaya confederacy. All individuals are from between the 4th and 5th century CE and are best modeled as an admixture between a northern China Bronze Age genetic source and a source of Jomon-related ancestry that shares similarities with the present-day genomes from Japan. The observed substructure and proportion of Jomon-related ancestry suggest the presence of two genetic groups within the population and diversity among the Gaya population. We could not correlate the genomic differences between these two groups with either social status or sex. All the ancient individuals' genomic profiles, including phenotypically relevant SNPs associated with hair and eye color, facial morphology, and myopia, imply strong genetic and phenotypic continuity with modern Koreans for the last 1,700 years.

RevDate: 2022-08-01
CmpDate: 2022-07-19

Översti S, JU Palo (2022)

Variation in the Substitution Rates among the Human Mitochondrial Haplogroup U Sublineages.

Genome biology and evolution, 14(7):.

Resolving the absolute timescale of phylogenetic trees stipulates reliable estimates for the rate of DNA sequence evolution. For this end, various calibration methods have been developed and studied intensively. Intraspecific rate variation among distinct genetic lineages, however, has gained less attention. Here, we have assessed lineage-specific molecular rates of human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) by performing tip-calibrated Bayesian phylogenetic analyses. Tip-calibration, as opposed to traditional nodal time stamps from dated fossil evidence or geological events, is based on sample ages and becoming ever more feasible as ancient DNA data from radiocarbon-dated samples accumulate. We focus on subhaplogroups U2, U4, U5a, and U5b, the data including ancient mtDNA genomes from 14C-dated samples (n = 234), contemporary genomes (n = 301), and two outgroup sequences from haplogroup R. The obtained molecular rates depended on the data sets (with or without contemporary sequences), suggesting time-dependency. More notable was the rate variation between haplogroups: U4 and U5a stand out having a substantially higher rate than U5b. This is also reflected in the divergence times obtained (U5a: 17,700 years and U5b: 29,700 years), a disparity not reported previously. After ruling out various alternative causes (e.g., selection, sampling, and sequence quality), we propose that the substitution rates have been influenced by demographic histories, widely different among populations where U4/U5a or U5b are frequent. As with the Y-chromosomal subhaplogroup R1b, the mitochondrial U4 and U5a have been associated with remarkable range extensions of the Yamnaya culture in the Bronze Age.

RevDate: 2022-06-23
CmpDate: 2022-06-23

Zheng ZQ, Fu QM, YC Liu (2022)

Exploration of adaptation, evolution and domestication of fermentation microorganisms by applying ancient DNA technology.

Yi chuan = Hereditas, 44(5):414-423.

Fermentation production is the most primitive application of microorganisms by humans, which is of great significance in human history. However, due to the lack of molecular evidence, the history of human fermentation production and the evolution and domestication of fermentation microorganisms remain to be further investigated. Taking wine and fermented dairy, the two most common types of fermented foods as examples, we introduce the archaeology evidence of fermented foods and the evolution and domestication of fermented microorganisms, introduce the research status of paleomicrobiology and fermented paleomicroorganisms, and explore the feasibility and challenges of the research of ancient fermented microorganisms applying microbial ancient DNA technology, as well as the application potential of ancient DNA capture technology in this field.

RevDate: 2022-06-23
CmpDate: 2022-06-23

Ping WJ, Liu YC, QM Fu (2022)

Exploring the evolution of archaic humans through sedimentary ancient DNA.

Yi chuan = Hereditas, 44(5):362-369.

Recent success in the retrieval of nuclear DNA of ancient humans and animals from cave sediments paves the way for genome-wide studies of past populations directly from sediments. In three studies, nuclear genomes of different species were obtained from the sediments of multiple archeological caves and their genetic histories were revealed, including an unknown population replacement of Neanderthals from Estatuas cave in Spain, which was recovered using a new DNA capture approach. By extending sediments as a source of DNA beyond fossils, this breakthrough is of particular significance to the field of ancient human genomics, which brings about more possibilities for exploring the history of past population migration, evolution and adaptation within larger time-scales and geographical areas where no fossil remains exist. Here, we mainly review the significance of the technical advances in retrieving ancient nuclear DNA from sediments and present new insights into the genetic history of Neanderthals revealed by this technique. By combining ancient genomes retrieved from fossils and additional mitochondrial DNA extracted from sediments of archaeological sites, we may begin investigating diverse archaic populations and examine their genetic relationships, movements and replacements in detail.

RevDate: 2022-07-16

Rodrigues Soares AE, Boroffka N, Schröder O, et al (2022)

Ancient DNA from a 2700-year-old goitered gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa) supports gazelle hunting in Iron Age Central Asia.

Royal Society open science, 9(6):220104.

Central Asia has been an important region connecting the different parts of Eurasia throughout history and prehistory, with large states developing in this region during the Iron Age. Archaeogenomics is a powerful addition to the zooarchaeological toolkit for understanding the relation of these societies to animals. Here, we present the genetic identification of a goitered gazelle specimen (Gazella subgutturosa) at the site Gazimulla-Tepa, in modern-day Uzbekistan, supporting hunting of the species in the region during the Iron Age. The sample was directly radiocarbon dated to 2724-2439 calBP. A phylogenetic analysis of the mitochondrial genome places the individual into the modern variation of G. subgutturosa. Our data do represent both the first ancient DNA and the first nuclear DNA sequences of this species. The lack of genomic resources available for this gazelle and related species prevented us from performing a more in-depth analysis of the nuclear sequences generated. Therefore, we are making our sequence data available to the research community to facilitate other research of this nowadays threatened species which has been subject to human hunting for several millennia across its entire range on the Asian continent.

RevDate: 2022-06-20

Graham F (2022)

Daily briefing: Ancient DNA traces origin of Black Death.

RevDate: 2022-07-16
CmpDate: 2022-06-20

Long GS, Klunk J, Duggan AT, et al (2022)

A 16th century Escherichia coli draft genome associated with an opportunistic bile infection.

Communications biology, 5(1):599.

Escherichia coli - one of the most characterized bacteria and a major public health concern - remains invisible across the temporal landscape. Here, we present the meticulous reconstruction of the first ancient E. coli genome from a 16th century gallstone from an Italian mummy with chronic cholecystitis. We isolated ancient DNA and reconstructed the ancient E. coli genome. It consisted of one chromosome of 4446 genes and two putative plasmids with 52 genes. The E. coli strain belonged to the phylogroup A and an exceptionally rare sequence type 4995. The type VI secretion system component genes appears to be horizontally acquired from Klebsiella aerogenes, however we could not identify any pathovar specific genes nor any acquired antibiotic resistances. A sepsis mouse assay showed that a closely related contemporary E. coli strain was avirulent. Our reconstruction of this ancient E. coli helps paint a more complete picture of the burden of opportunistic infections of the past.

RevDate: 2022-06-24
CmpDate: 2022-06-20

Gibbons A (2022)

Ancient DNA reveals Black Death source.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 376(6599):1254-1255.

Graves in Kyrgyzstan hold early victims of plague that swept medieval Europe.

RevDate: 2022-06-27

Callaway E (2022)

Ancient DNA traces origin of Black Death.

Nature, 606(7915):635-636.

RevDate: 2022-07-16
CmpDate: 2022-06-24

Spyrou MA, Musralina L, Gnecchi Ruscone GA, et al (2022)

The source of the Black Death in fourteenth-century central Eurasia.

Nature, 606(7915):718-724.

The origin of the medieval Black Death pandemic (AD 1346-1353) has been a topic of continuous investigation because of the pandemic's extensive demographic impact and long-lasting consequences1,2. Until now, the most debated archaeological evidence potentially associated with the pandemic's initiation derives from cemeteries located near Lake Issyk-Kul of modern-day Kyrgyzstan1,3-9. These sites are thought to have housed victims of a fourteenth-century epidemic as tombstone inscriptions directly dated to 1338-1339 state 'pestilence' as the cause of death for the buried individuals9. Here we report ancient DNA data from seven individuals exhumed from two of these cemeteries, Kara-Djigach and Burana. Our synthesis of archaeological, historical and ancient genomic data shows a clear involvement of the plague bacterium Yersinia pestis in this epidemic event. Two reconstructed ancient Y. pestis genomes represent a single strain and are identified as the most recent common ancestor of a major diversification commonly associated with the pandemic's emergence, here dated to the first half of the fourteenth century. Comparisons with present-day diversity from Y. pestis reservoirs in the extended Tian Shan region support a local emergence of the recovered ancient strain. Through multiple lines of evidence, our data support an early fourteenth-century source of the second plague pandemic in central Eurasia.

RevDate: 2022-07-16

Mohit , Sharma I, Sharma V, et al (2022)

Empirical assessment of allele frequencies of genome wide association study variants associated with obstructive sleep apnea.

American journal of translational research, 14(5):3464-3471.

OBJECTIVE: Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a heterogeneous disorder with a complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors. Over the years, with advancement in genotyping and sequencing techniques, various loci have shown an association with OSA. It is pertinent to understand the status of these associated variants in different ethnic groups. The aim of the study was to assess the genetic affinity among different population groups by evaluating the risk allele frequencies of variants associated with OSA.

METHOD: The variants associated with OSA were obtained from the GWAS catalog with a significant p value of <5 × 10-7; 95 variants were obtained (www.ebi.ac.uk/gwas). Further, the variants were narrowed down on the basis of risk allele frequencies (>5%). The fst was calculated to assess the genetic affinity between super population groups and among the sub-population groups present in the 1000 genome project.

RESULT: The fst values observed indicated all super populations were genetically related (SAS, AMR, EAS and EUR) except in the African (AFR) population group. Further, the closely related super population i.e., SAS, AMR, EAS and EUR when bifurcated on the basis of sub-population groups shows population stratification and SAS population groups form separate clusters on the MDS plot.

CONCLUSION: The study highlights genetic heterogeneity among different population groups that gets diluted and results are biased when the samples are pooled irrespective of their endogamous groups. Our results provide insight to researchers to target specific endogamous groups for future studies on OSA.

RevDate: 2022-07-16
CmpDate: 2022-06-15

Kutschera VE, Kierczak M, van der Valk T, et al (2022)

GenErode: a bioinformatics pipeline to investigate genome erosion in endangered and extinct species.

BMC bioinformatics, 23(1):228.

BACKGROUND: Many wild species have suffered drastic population size declines over the past centuries, which have led to 'genomic erosion' processes characterized by reduced genetic diversity, increased inbreeding, and accumulation of harmful mutations. Yet, genomic erosion estimates of modern-day populations often lack concordance with dwindling population sizes and conservation status of threatened species. One way to directly quantify the genomic consequences of population declines is to compare genome-wide data from pre-decline museum samples and modern samples. However, doing so requires computational data processing and analysis tools specifically adapted to comparative analyses of degraded, ancient or historical, DNA data with modern DNA data as well as personnel trained to perform such analyses.

RESULTS: Here, we present a highly flexible, scalable, and modular pipeline to compare patterns of genomic erosion using samples from disparate time periods. The GenErode pipeline uses state-of-the-art bioinformatics tools to simultaneously process whole-genome re-sequencing data from ancient/historical and modern samples, and to produce comparable estimates of several genomic erosion indices. No programming knowledge is required to run the pipeline and all bioinformatic steps are well-documented, making the pipeline accessible to users with different backgrounds. GenErode is written in Snakemake and Python3 and uses Conda and Singularity containers to achieve reproducibility on high-performance compute clusters. The source code is freely available on GitHub (https://github.com/NBISweden/GenErode).

CONCLUSIONS: GenErode is a user-friendly and reproducible pipeline that enables the standardization of genomic erosion indices from temporally sampled whole genome re-sequencing data.

RevDate: 2022-08-05

Huang Y, H Ringbauer (2022)

hapCon: Estimating Contamination of Ancient Genomes by Copying from Reference Haplotypes.

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

MOTIVATION: Human ancient DNA (aDNA) studies have surged in recent years, revolutionizing the study of the human past. Typically, aDNA is preserved poorly, making such data prone to contamination from other human DNA. Therefore, it is important to rule out substantial contamination before proceeding to downstream analysis. As most aDNA samples can only be sequenced to low coverages (<1x average depth), computational methods that can robustly estimate contamination in the low coverage regime are needed. However, the ultra low-coverage regime (0.1x and below) remains a challenging task for existing approaches.

RESULTS: We present a new method to estimate contamination in aDNA for male modern humans. It utilizes a Li&Stephens haplotype copying model for haploid X chromosomes, with mismatches modelled as errors or contamination. We assessed this new approach, hapCon, on simulated and down-sampled empirical aDNA data. Our experiments demonstrate that hapCon outperforms a commonly used tool for estimating male X contamination (ANGSD), with substantially lower variance and narrower confidence intervals, especially in the low coverage regime. We found that hapCon provides useful contamination estimates for coverages as low as 0.1x for SNP capture data (1240k) and 0.02x for whole genome sequencing data (WGS), substantially extending the coverage limit of previous male X chromosome based contamination estimation methods. Our experiments demonstrate that hapCon has little bias for contamination up to 25-30% as long as the contaminating source is specified within continental genetic variation, and that its application range extends to human aDNA as old as ∼45,000 and various global ancestries.

AVAILABILITY: We make hapCon available as part of a python package (hapROH), which is available at the Python Package Index (https://pypi.org/project/hapROH) and can be installed via pip. The documentation provides example use cases as blueprints for custom applications (https://haproh.readthedocs.io/en/latest/hapCon.html). The program can analyze either BAM files or pileup files produced with samtools. An implementation of our software (hapCon) using Python and C is deposited at https://github.com/hyl317/hapROH.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

RevDate: 2022-07-16

Xue J, Wang W, Shao J, et al (2022)

Ancient Mitogenomes Reveal the Origins and Genetic Structure of the Neolithic Shimao Population in Northern China.

Frontiers in genetics, 13:909267.

Shimao City is considered an important political and religious center during the Late Neolithic Longshan period of the Middle Yellow River basin. The genetic history and population dynamics among the Shimao and other ancient populations, especially the Taosi-related populations, remain unknown. Here, we sequenced 172 complete mitochondrial genomes, ranging from the Yangshao to Longshan period, from individuals related to the Shimao culture in northern Shaanxi Province and Taosi culture in southern Shanxi Province, Middle Yellow River basin. Our results show that the populations inhabiting Shimao City had close genetic connections with an earlier population in the Middle Neolithic Yangshao period of northern Shaanxi Province, revealing a mostly local origin for the Shimao Society. In addition, among the populations in other regions of the Yellow River basin, the Shimao-related populations had the closest maternal affinity with the contemporaneous Taosi populations from the Longshan period. The Shimao-related populations also shared more affinity with present-day northern Han populations than with the minorities and southern Han in China. Our study provides a new perspective on the genetic origins and structure of the Shimao people and the population dynamics in the Middle Yellow River basin during the Neolithic period.

RevDate: 2022-07-18

Poma A, Cesare P, Bonfigli A, et al (2022)

A qPCR-duplex assay for sex determination in ancient DNA.

PloS one, 17(6):e0269913.

Molecular biology techniques are increasingly being used in sex identification of skeletal remains when traditional anthropometric analyzes are not successful in identifying sex of remains that are incomplete, fragmented and /or of immature individuals. In the present work, we investigated the possibility of determining sex by using the qPCR-duplex method for both ancient and modern DNA samples. This method involves the co-amplification of two genes in a single reaction system and the subsequent analysis of the fusion curves; the gene sequences used for the construction of suitable primers are those of steroid sulfatase (STS) and testis specific protein Y-linked 1 (TSPY) genes which turned out to be two sensitive markers as they have a detection limit of 60 pg and 20 pg respectively on modern DNA. The validity of the method was verified on modern DNA in which gender was identified in all the samples with 100% accuracy; thus, allowing for the same results as the classic method with amelogenin, but in a faster and more immediate way, as it allows for sex determination solely by analyzing the denaturation curves without having to perform an electrophoretic run. The proposed molecular technique proves to be sensitive and precise even on degraded DNA, in fact on 9 archaeological finds dating from the VII-XII century in which sex had been identified through anthropometric analysis, it confirmed the sex of 8 out of 9 finds correctly.

RevDate: 2022-07-16
CmpDate: 2022-06-13

Schulte L, Meucci S, Stoof-Leichsenring KR, et al (2022)

Larix species range dynamics in Siberia since the Last Glacial captured from sedimentary ancient DNA.

Communications biology, 5(1):570.

Climate change is expected to cause major shifts in boreal forests which are in vast areas of Siberia dominated by two species of the deciduous needle tree larch (Larix). The species differ markedly in their ecosystem functions, thus shifts in their respective ranges are of global relevance. However, drivers of species distribution are not well understood, in part because paleoecological data at species level are lacking. This study tracks Larix species distribution in time and space using target enrichment on sedimentary ancient DNA extracts from eight lakes across Siberia. We discovered that Larix sibirica, presently dominating in western Siberia, likely migrated to its northern distribution area only in the Holocene at around 10,000 years before present (ka BP), and had a much wider eastern distribution around 33 ka BP. Samples dated to the Last Glacial Maximum (around 21 ka BP), consistently show genotypes of L. gmelinii. Our results suggest climate as a strong determinant of species distribution in Larix and provide temporal and spatial data for species projection in a changing climate.

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

Choin J, L Quintana-Murci (2022)

Paleogenomics: The demographic past of prehistoric Europeans.

Current biology : CB, 32(11):R535-R538.

Ancient DNA provides answers to long-standing debates about past human history. New work using demographic modeling on ancient genomes documents the nature and timing of the demographic processes - population size changes, divergences and admixture - that took place in prehistoric Europe.

RevDate: 2022-06-21

Nagler M, Podmirseg SM, Ascher-Jenull J, et al (2022)

Why eDNA fractions need consideration in biomonitoring.

Molecular ecology resources [Epub ahead of print].

The analysis of environmental DNA (eDNA) is revolutionizing the monitoring of biodiversity as it allows to assess organismic diversity at large scale and unprecedented taxonomic detail. However, eDNA consists of an extracellular and intracellular fraction, each characterized by particular properties that determine the retrievable information on when and where organisms live or have been living. Here, we review the fractions of eDNA, describe how to obtain them from environmental samples and present a four-scenario concept that aims at enhancing spatial and temporal resolution of eDNA-based monitoring. Importantly, we highlight how the appropriate choice of eDNA fractions precludes misinterpretation of eDNA-based biodiversity data. Finally, future avenues of research towards eDNA fraction-specific analyses are outlined to unravel the full potential of eDNA-based studies targeting micro- and macro-organisms.

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

Chintalapati M, Patterson N, P Moorjani (2022)

The spatiotemporal patterns of major human admixture events during the European Holocene.

eLife, 11:.

Recent studies have shown that admixture has been pervasive throughout human history. While several methods exist for dating admixture in contemporary populations, they are not suitable for sparse, low coverage ancient genomic data. Thus, we developed DATES (Distribution of Ancestry Tracts of Evolutionary Signals) that leverages ancestry covariance patterns across the genome of a single individual to infer the timing of admixture. DATES provides reliable estimates under various demographic scenarios and outperforms available methods for ancient DNA applications. Using DATES on~1100 ancient genomes from sixteen regions in Europe and west Asia, we reconstruct the chronology of the formation of the ancestral populations and the fine-scale details of the spread of Neolithic farming and Steppe pastoralist-related ancestry across Europe. By studying the genetic formation of Anatolian farmers, we infer that gene flow related to Iranian Neolithic farmers occurred before 9600 BCE, predating the advent of agriculture in Anatolia. Contrary to the archaeological evidence, we estimate that early Steppe pastoralist groups (Yamnaya and Afanasievo) were genetically formed more than a millennium before the start of Steppe pastoralism. Our analyses provide new insights on the origins and spread of farming and Indo-European languages, highlighting the power of genomic dating methods to elucidate the legacy of human migrations.

RevDate: 2022-07-16

Abondio P, Cilli E, D Luiselli (2022)

Inferring Signatures of Positive Selection in Whole-Genome Sequencing Data: An Overview of Haplotype-Based Methods.

Genes, 13(5):.

Signatures of positive selection in the genome are a characteristic mark of adaptation that can reveal an ongoing, recent, or ancient response to environmental change throughout the evolution of a population. New sources of food, climate conditions, and exposure to pathogens are only some of the possible sources of selective pressure, and the rise of advantageous genetic variants is a crucial determinant of survival and reproduction. In this context, the ability to detect these signatures of selection may pinpoint genetic variants that are responsible for a significant change in gene regulation, gene expression, or protein synthesis, structure, and function. This review focuses on statistical methods that take advantage of linkage disequilibrium and haplotype determination to reveal signatures of positive selection in whole-genome sequencing data, showing that they emerge from different descriptions of the same underlying event. Moreover, considerations are provided around the application of these statistics to different species, their suitability for ancient DNA, and the usefulness of discovering variants under selection for biomedicine and public health in an evolutionary medicine framework.

RevDate: 2022-07-16

Scorrano G, Viva S, Pinotti T, et al (2022)

Bioarchaeological and palaeogenomic portrait of two Pompeians that died during the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD.

Scientific reports, 12(1):6468.

The archaeological site of Pompeii is one of the 54 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Italy, thanks to its uniqueness: the town was completely destroyed and buried by a Vesuvius' eruption in 79 AD. In this work, we present a multidisciplinary approach with bioarchaeological and palaeogenomic analyses of two Pompeian human remains from the Casa del Fabbro. We have been able to characterize the genetic profile of the first Pompeian' genome, which has strong affinities with the surrounding central Italian population from the Roman Imperial Age. Our findings suggest that, despite the extensive connection between Rome and other Mediterranean populations, a noticeable degree of genetic homogeneity exists in the Italian peninsula at that time. Moreover, palaeopathological analyses identified the presence of spinal tuberculosis and we further investigated the presence of ancient DNA from Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In conclusion, our study demonstrates the power of a combined approach to investigate ancient humans and confirms the possibility to retrieve ancient DNA from Pompeii human remains. Our initial findings provide a foundation to promote an intensive and extensive paleogenetic analysis in order to reconstruct the genetic history of population from Pompeii, a unique archaeological site.

RevDate: 2022-07-14
CmpDate: 2022-07-14

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

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

Current biology : CB, 32(13):2858-2870.e7.

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

RevDate: 2022-05-24

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

Ancient proteins resolve controversy over the identity of Genyornis eggshell.

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

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

RevDate: 2022-07-16
CmpDate: 2022-06-23

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

Ancient Maltese genomes and the genetic geography of Neolithic Europe.

Current biology : CB, 32(12):2668-2680.e6.

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

RevDate: 2022-07-16
CmpDate: 2022-05-20

Slavin P, F Sebbane (2022)

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

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

RevDate: 2022-07-19

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

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

Molecular biology and evolution, 39(6):.

Human expansion in the course of the Neolithic transition in western Eurasia has been one of the major topics in ancient DNA research in the last 10 years. Multiple studies have shown that the spread of agriculture and animal husbandry from the Near East across Europe was accompanied by large-scale human expansions. Moreover, changes in subsistence and migration associated with the Neolithic transition have been hypothesized to involve genetic adaptation. Here, we present high quality genome-wide data from the Linear Pottery Culture site Derenburg-Meerenstieg II (DER) (N = 32 individuals) in Central Germany. Population genetic analyses show that the DER individuals carried predominantly Anatolian Neolithic-like ancestry and a very limited degree of local hunter-gatherer admixture, similar to other early European farmers. Increasing the Linear Pottery culture cohort size to ∼100 individuals allowed us to perform various frequency- and haplotype-based analyses to investigate signatures of selection associated with changes following the adoption of the Neolithic lifestyle. In addition, we developed a new method called Admixture-informed Maximum-likelihood Estimation for Selection Scans that allowed us test for selection signatures in an admixture-aware fashion. Focusing on the intersection of results from these selection scans, we identified various loci associated with immune function (JAK1, HLA-DQB1) and metabolism (LMF1, LEPR, SORBS1), as well as skin color (SLC24A5, CD82) and folate synthesis (MTHFR, NBPF3). Our findings shed light on the evolutionary pressures, such as infectious disease and changing diet, that were faced by the early farmers of Western Eurasia.

RevDate: 2022-07-16

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

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

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

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


RJR Experience and Expertise


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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Collection of publications by R J Robbins

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

Research Gate page for R J Robbins

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

Curriculum Vitae for R J Robbins

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Curriculum Vitae for R J Robbins

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