Ancient DNA

Cross-linked DNA extracted from the 4,000-year-old liver of the ancient Egyptian priest Nekht-Ankh.

Ancient DNA (aDNA) is DNA isolated from ancient specimens. [1] [2] It can be also loosely described as any DNA recovered from biological samples that have not been preserved specifically for later DNA analyses. Examples include the analysis of DNA recovered from archaeological and historical skeletal material, mummified tissues, archival collections of non-frozen medical specimens, preserved plant remains, ice and permafrost cores, Holocene plankton in marine and lake sediments, and so on.

Unlike modern genetic analyses, ancient DNA studies are characterised by low-quality DNA. This places limits on what analyses can achieve. Furthermore, due to degradation of the DNA molecules, a process which correlates loosely with factors such as time, temperature, and presence of free water, upper limits exist beyond which no DNA is deemed likely to survive. Allentoft et al. (2012) tried to calculate this limit by studying the decay of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA in Moa bones. The DNA degrades in an exponential decay process. According to their model, mitochondrial DNA is degraded to an average length of 1 base pair after 6,830,000 years at −5 °C. [3] The decay kinetics have been measured by accelerated aging experiments further displaying the strong influence of storage temperature and humidity on DNA decay. [4] Nuclear DNA degrades at least twice as fast as mtDNA. As such, early studies that reported recovery of much older DNA, for example from Cretaceous dinosaur remains, may have stemmed from contamination of the sample.

History of ancient DNA studies

The first study of what would come to be called aDNA was conducted in 1984, when Russ Higuchi and colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley reported that traces of DNA from a museum specimen of the Quagga not only remained in the specimen over 150 years after the death of the individual, but could be extracted and sequenced. [5] Over the next two years, through investigations into natural and artificially mummified specimens, Svante Pääbo confirmed that this phenomenon was not limited to relatively recent museum specimens but could apparently be replicated in a range of mummified human samples that dated as far back as several thousand years (Pääbo 1985a; Pääbo 1985b; Pääbo 1986). The laborious processes that were required at that time to sequence such DNA (through bacterial cloning) were an effective brake on the development of the field of ancient DNA (aDNA). However, with the development of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) in the late 1980s, the field began to progress rapidly. [6] [7]

Double primer PCR amplification of aDNA (jumping-PCR) can produce highly skewed and non-authentic sequence artifacts. Multiple primer, nested PCR strategy was used to overcome those shortcomings.

Single primer extension (abr. SPEX) amplification was introduced in 2007 to address postmortem DNA modification damage. [8]

Other Languages
català: ADN fòssil
Deutsch: ADNA
español: ADN antiguo
français: ADN fossile
italiano: DNA antico
polski: Antyczny DNA
português: DNA antigo
українська: Стародавня ДНК