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Using modern sequencing techniques to study ancient modern humans
Date:12/31/2009

s, known as "second-generation sequencing," enable the researchers to "read" directly from ancient DNA molecules, without having to use probes to multiply the DNA. Moreover, they can read from very short sequence fragments that are typical of DNA ancient remains because over time the DNA strands tend to break up. By contrast, DNA that is younger and only recently came in contact with the sample would consist of much longer fragments. This and other features, such as the chemical damage incurred by ancient as opposed to modern DNA, effectively enabled the researchers to distinguish between genuine ancient DNA molecules and modern contamination. "We can now do what I thought was impossible just a year ago determine reliable DNA sequences from modern humans - but this is still possible only from very well-preserved specimens," says Pbo.

The application of this technology to the remains of members of our own species that lived tens of thousands of years ago now opens a possibility to address questions about the evolution and prehistory of our own species that were not possible with previous methods, for instance whether the humans living in Europe 30,000 years ago are the direct ancestors of present-day Europeans or whether they were later replaced by immigrants that brought new technology such as farming with them.


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Contact: Cathleen Genova
cgenova@cell.com
617-397-2802
Cell Press
Source:Eurekalert

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