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Scientists sequence DNA of woolly mammoth

ermafrost soil of northern Siberia, in combination with a novel high-throughput sequencing technique that could cope with the heavily fragmented DNA retrieved from the organism's mandible, its jaws. The bone material used in this study is approximately 28,000 years old, as was shown by beta-carbon dating analysis. This was a surprising finding, as it demonstrated that the analyzed material was frozen for more than 10,000 years before the maximum of the last ice age. The research team used a computational approach to demonstrate that an unprecedented 50 perecent of the bone DNA was indeed mammoth DNA, while the remaining genetic material was shown to belong to microorganisms living the tundra soil.

The study indicates that any organism that has been trapped in frozen ice or a permafrost environment for up to one million years will be an open book to the researchers. The search is now on for more specimens from plant, animal, and man that can illuminate the route evolution took on its way from the past to the present, and that can perhaps clarify the role environmental changes did play in the extinction of an entire species.

Initial funding for this study was provided by McMaster University, The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Penn State University. The researchers now are seeking funding for the completion of the mammoth genome sequence and hope to conduct detailed comparative studies that include the genomes of African and Indian elephants.


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Source:Penn State


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