Mammoth “Metagenome” Sequencing
Using a combination of novel techniques, an international team of
researchers has sequenced a chunk of ancient DNA belonging to a 27,000
year-old woolly mammoth and “fellow travelers” from its
remains, including a sample of the bacteria, fungi, viruses and plants
that lived at the same time as the mammoth.
As reported in Science, the techniques produced an impressive
amount of nuclear DNA, which is normally less prevalent than mitochondrial
DNA and more difficult to extract from ancient remains. The sequencing
feat performed by Hendrik Poinar and colleagues extracted nuclear
DNA from the mammoth's jawbone, concentrating the DNA into a single-molecule
serving size that was enclosed in a lipid bubble before it was amplified
and sequenced by a relatively new technique called pyrosequencing.
The researchers say nearly half of the “metagenome”
they sequenced belongs to the mammoth and is very similar to the African
27 December 2005