DNA in the news. Lost Frontiers' Robin Allaby on recent finds


Researchers have recovered ancient-human DNA without having obvious remains — just sediments from the caves the hominins lived in.

From sediments in European and Asian caves, a team led by geneticist Viviane Slon and molecular biologist Matthias Meyer, both at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, sequenced genomes of cell structures called mitochondria from Neanderthals and another hominin group, the Denisovans – the results are published in Science.

Lost Frontiers’ Robin Allaby thinks that the large amount of DNA recovered from some sites is evidence that lots of different material might have mixed and settled in a particular layer. “You can identify the hominins, but dating them becomes a bit of an issue,” he says.

Lost Frontiers researchers have high hopes for sedimentary DNA. Allaby and the Lost Frontiers team is sequencing sea-floor sediments off the coast of England, in search of suspected ancient settlements that might now be submerged. Cool, constant ocean temperatures are ideal for preserving DNA, and Allaby thinks genetic material found under water could reveal details of human migrations out of Africa and into Australasia and the Americas.

More at https://www.nature.com/news/ancient-human-genomes-plucked-from-cave-dirt-1.21910

Photo Credit of Vindija Cave MPI-EVA_JKrause


North Sea