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454 Sequencing(TM): Science Paper Describes a Novel, Highly Efficient Method of Sequencing Ancient DNA; Sequences the Mitochondria of 10 Individual Mammoths to Prove It
Date:9/27/2007

BRANFORD, Conn., Sept. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- 454 Life Sciences, a Roche company, today reported that researchers from Pennsylvania State University have used the company's Genome Sequencer(TM) FLX system to sequence the entire mitochondrial genomes from 10 individual woolly mammoths. The study, entitled "Whole-Genome Shotgun Sequencing of Mitochondria from Ancient Hair Shafts" appears online (ahead of print) today in the journal Science.

The study describes a novel way to study the genomes of extinct animals: hair shafts provide an ideal source of ancient DNA. Typically, DNA sequencing from hair involves the hair root, which contains recognizable cells. In this new study, researchers portray the hair shaft as DNA encased in a biological kind of plastic, protected from damage and isolated from contaminants.

The study demonstrates the efficacy of this new method by employing 454 Sequencing to sequence the entire mitochondria from 10 individual Woolly mammoths. Several of the hair samples investigated were up to 50,000 years old with one sample being stored in a Russian museum for 200 years at room temperature. To put this new study in perspective, only seven mitochondrial genomes from extinct animals had been previously published, four from ancient birds, two from mammoths, and one of the mastodon, a distant relative of mammoths.

"The challenge with sequencing ancient DNA is finding an undamaged and uncontaminated sample, and having a sequencing technology that can produce long, highly accurate sequence reads affordably." explained Stephan C. Schuster, PhD., senior author and Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Pennsylvania State University. "By combining our novel method for capturing ancient DNA with 454 Sequencing, we are able to move paleogenomics from a niche application to high-throughput analysis. I can see a time of museumomics where museums will add genomic analyses to extinct species stored in collections around
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SOURCE 454 Life Sciences
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