Modern strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from the Americas are closely related to those from Europe, supporting the assumption that human tuberculosis was introduced post-contact. This notion, however, is incompatible with archaeological evidence of pre-contact tuberculosis in the New World. Comparative genomics of modern isolates suggests that M. tuberculosis attained its worldwide distribution following human dispersals out of Africa during the Pleistocene epoch, although this has yet to be confirmed with ancient calibration points. Here we present three 1,000-year-old mycobacterial genomes from Peruvian human skeletons, revealing that a member of the M. tuberculosis complex caused human disease before contact. The ancient strains are distinct from known human-adapted forms and are most closely related to those adapted to seals and sea lions. Two independent dating approaches suggest a most recent common ancestor for the M. tuberculosis complex less than 6,000 years ago, which supports a Holocene dispersal of the disease. Our results implicate sea mammals as having played a role in transmitting the disease to humans across the ocean.
We sequenced the genomes of a ?7,000-year-old farmer from Germany and eight ?8,000-year-old hunter-gatherers from Luxembourg and Sweden. We analysed these and other ancient genomes with 2,345 contemporary humans to show that most present-day Europeans derive from at least three highly differentiated populations: west European hunter-gatherers, who contributed ancestry to all Europeans but not to Near Easterners; ancient north Eurasians related to Upper Palaeolithic Siberians, who contributed to both Europeans and Near Easterners; and early European farmers, who were mainly of Near Eastern origin but also harboured west European hunter-gatherer related ancestry. We model these populations' deep relationships and show that early European farmers had ?44% ancestry from a 'basal Eurasian' population that split before the diversification of other non-African lineages.
Leprosy has afflicted humankind throughout history leaving evidence in both early texts and the archaeological record. In Britain, leprosy was widespread throughout the Middle Ages until its gradual and unexplained decline between the 14th and 16th centuries. The nature of this ancient endemic leprosy and its relationship to modern strains is only partly understood. Modern leprosy strains are currently divided into 5 phylogenetic groups, types 0 to 4, each with strong geographical links. Until recently, European strains, both ancient and modern, were thought to be exclusively type 3 strains. However, evidence for type 2 strains, a group normally associated with Central Asia and the Middle East, has recently been found in archaeological samples in Scandinavia and from two skeletons from the medieval leprosy hospital (or leprosarium) of St Mary Magdalen, near Winchester, England.
One of the main impediments for obtaining DNA sequences from ancient human skeletons is the presence of contaminating modern human DNA molecules in many fossil samples and laboratory reagents. However, DNA fragments isolated from ancient specimens show a characteristic DNA damage pattern caused by miscoding lesions that differs from present day DNA sequences. Here, we develop a framework for evaluating the likelihood of a sequence originating from a model with postmortem degradation-summarized in a postmortem degradation score-which allows the identification of DNA fragments that are unlikely to originate from present day sources. We apply this approach to a contaminated Neandertal specimen from Okladnikov Cave in Siberia to isolate its endogenous DNA from modern human contaminants and show that the reconstructed mitochondrial genome sequence is more closely related to the variation of Western Neandertals than what was discernible from previous analyses. Our method opens up the potential for genomic analysis of contaminated fossil material.
Leprosy was endemic in Europe until the Middle Ages. Using DNA array capture, we have obtained genome sequences of Mycobacterium leprae from skeletons of five medieval leprosy cases from the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Denmark. In one case, the DNA was so well preserved that full de novo assembly of the ancient bacterial genome could be achieved through shotgun sequencing alone. The ancient M. leprae sequences were compared with those of 11 modern strains, representing diverse genotypes and geographic origins. The comparisons revealed remarkable genomic conservation during the past 1000 years, a European origin for leprosy in the Americas, and the presence of an M. leprae genotype in medieval Europe now commonly associated with the Middle East. The exceptional preservation of M. leprae biomarkers, both DNA and mycolic acids, in ancient skeletons has major implications for palaeomicrobiology and human pathogen evolution.
Guenons (tribe Cercopithecini) are one of the most diverse groups of primates. They occupy all of sub-Saharan Africa and show great variation in ecology, behavior, and morphology. This variation led to the description of over 60 species and subspecies. Here, using next-generation DNA sequencing (NGS) in combination with targeted DNA capture, we sequenced 92 mitochondrial genomes from museum-preserved specimens as old as 117 years. We infer evolutionary relationships and estimate divergence times of almost all guenon taxa based on mitochondrial genome sequences. Using this phylogenetic framework, we infer divergence dates and reconstruct ancestral geographic ranges. We conclude that the extraordinary radiation of guenons has been a complex process driven by, among other factors, localized fluctuations of African forest cover. We find incongruences between phylogenetic trees reconstructed from mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences, which can be explained by either incomplete lineage sorting or hybridization. Furthermore, having produced the largest mitochondrial DNA data set from museum specimens, we document how NGS technologies can "unlock" museum collections, thereby helping to unravel the tree-of-life.
Recent analyses of de novo DNA mutations in modern humans have suggested a nuclear substitution rate that is approximately half that of previous estimates based on fossil calibration. This result has led to suggestions that major events in human evolution occurred far earlier than previously thought.
During the past years suicide statistics in Germany showed a dramatic decrease of suicide rates. Such a reduction in a comparatively short time period is not explainable by an altered frequency of major psychiatric disorders or certain neurobiological conditions that may underlie suicide; other factors causing or leading to suicide and their modification have to be considered. This overview illustrates various risk factors for suicide different from neurobiology. Epidemiological aspects and the effect of political, social and economic contributions to suicide rates are exemplified. With regard to the incidence of major psychiatric disorders the paper focuses on physical illnesses and their risk of suicide. Finally the significance of changes in the accessibility of suicide methods is discussed.
Phytophthora infestans, the cause of potato late blight, is infamous for having triggered the Irish Great Famine in the 1840s. Until the late 1970s, P. infestans diversity outside of its Mexican center of origin was low, and one scenario held that a single strain, US-1, had dominated the global population for 150 years; this was later challenged based on DNA analysis of historical herbarium specimens. We have compared the genomes of 11 herbarium and 15 modern strains. We conclude that the 19th century epidemic was caused by a unique genotype, HERB-1, that persisted for over 50 years. HERB-1 is distinct from all examined modern strains, but it is a close relative of US-1, which replaced it outside of Mexico in the 20th century. We propose that HERB-1 and US-1 emerged from a metapopulation that was established in the early 1800s outside of the species center of diversity. DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.00731.001.
The generation and characterization of narrowband THz pulses by means of chirped pulse difference frequency generation in Auston-switch type photoconductive antennas is reported. Using optical pulses with energies in the range from 1 nJ to 1 µJ, we generate THz pulses with up to 50 pJ in energy and electric field strengths on the order of 1 kV/cm. Two emitter concepts are investigated and circumvention of the fast saturation for small area excitation by scaling of the THz emitter is demonstrated.
Although investigations of medieval plague victims have identified Yersinia pestis as the putative etiologic agent of the pandemic, methodological limitations have prevented large-scale genomic investigations to evaluate changes in the pathogens virulence over time. We screened over 100 skeletal remains from Black Death victims of the East Smithfield mass burial site (1348-1350, London, England). Recent methods of DNA enrichment coupled with high-throughput DNA sequencing subsequently permitted reconstruction of ten full human mitochondrial genomes (16 kb each) and the full pPCP1 (9.6 kb) virulence-associated plasmid at high coverage. Comparisons of molecular damage profiles between endogenous human and Y. pestis DNA confirmed its authenticity as an ancient pathogen, thus representing the longest contiguous genomic sequence for an ancient pathogen to date. Comparison of our reconstructed plasmid against modern Y. pestis shows identity with several isolates matching the Medievalis biovar; however, our chromosomal sequences indicate the victims were infected with a Y. pestis variant that has not been previously reported. Our data reveal that the Black Death in medieval Europe was caused by a variant of Y. pestis that may no longer exist, and genetic data carried on its pPCP1 plasmid were not responsible for the purported epidemiological differences between ancient and modern forms of Y. pestis infections.
Genome-wide data, both from SNP arrays and from complete genome sequencing, are becoming increasingly abundant and are now even available from extinct hominins. These data are providing new insights into population history; in particular, when combined with model-based analytical approaches, genome-wide data allow direct testing of hypotheses about population history. For example, genome-wide data from both contemporary populations and extinct hominins strongly support a single dispersal of modern humans from Africa, followed by two archaic admixture events: one with Neanderthals somewhere outside Africa and a second with Denisovans that (so far) has only been detected in New Guinea. These new developments promise to reveal new stories about human population history, without having to resort to storytelling.
Murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) Smith strain has been cloned as a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) named pSM3fr and used for analysis of virus gene functions in vitro and in vivo. When sequencing the complete BAC genome, we identified a frameshift mutation within the open reading frame (ORF) encoding MCMV chemokine homologue MCK-2. This mutation would result in a truncated MCK-2 protein. When mice were infected with pSM3fr-derived virus, we observed reduced virus production in salivary glands, which could be reverted by repair of the frameshift mutation. When looking for the source of the mutation, we consistently found that virus stocks of cell culture-passaged MCMV Smith strain are mixtures of viruses with or without the MCK-2 mutation. We conclude that the MCK-2 mutation in the pSM3fr BAC is the result of clonal selection during the BAC cloning procedure.
Technological advances in DNA recovery and sequencing have drastically expanded the scope of genetic analyses of ancient specimens to the extent that full genomic investigations are now feasible and are quickly becoming standard. This trend has important implications for infectious disease research because genomic data from ancient microbes may help to elucidate mechanisms of pathogen evolution and adaptation for emerging and re-emerging infections. Here we report a reconstructed ancient genome of Yersinia pestis at 30-fold average coverage from Black Death victims securely dated to episodes of pestilence-associated mortality in London, England, 1348-1350. Genetic architecture and phylogenetic analysis indicate that the ancient organism is ancestral to most extant strains and sits very close to the ancestral node of all Y. pestis commonly associated with human infection. Temporal estimates suggest that the Black Death of 1347-1351 was the main historical event responsible for the introduction and widespread dissemination of the ancestor to all currently circulating Y. pestis strains pathogenic to humans, and further indicates that contemporary Y. pestis epidemics have their origins in the medieval era. Comparisons against modern genomes reveal no unique derived positions in the medieval organism, indicating that the perceived increased virulence of the disease during the Black Death may not have been due to bacterial phenotype. These findings support the notion that factors other than microbial genetics, such as environment, vector dynamics and host susceptibility, should be at the forefront of epidemiological discussions regarding emerging Y. pestis infections.
Using DNA extracted from a finger bone found in Denisova Cave in southern Siberia, we have sequenced the genome of an archaic hominin to about 1.9-fold coverage. This individual is from a group that shares a common origin with Neanderthals. This population was not involved in the putative gene flow from Neanderthals into Eurasians; however, the data suggest that it contributed 4-6% of its genetic material to the genomes of present-day Melanesians. We designate this hominin population Denisovans and suggest that it may have been widespread in Asia during the Late Pleistocene epoch. A tooth found in Denisova Cave carries a mitochondrial genome highly similar to that of the finger bone. This tooth shares no derived morphological features with Neanderthals or modern humans, further indicating that Denisovans have an evolutionary history distinct from Neanderthals and modern humans.
It is now possible to perform whole-genome shotgun sequencing as well as capture of specific genomic regions for extinct organisms. However, targeted resequencing of large parts of nuclear genomes has yet to be demonstrated for ancient DNA. Here we show that hybridization capture on microarrays can successfully recover more than a megabase of target regions from Neandertal DNA even in the presence of approximately 99.8% microbial DNA. Using this approach, we have sequenced approximately 14,000 protein-coding positions inferred to have changed on the human lineage since the last common ancestor shared with chimpanzees. By generating the sequence of one Neandertal and 50 present-day humans at these positions, we have identified 88 amino acid substitutions that have become fixed in humans since our divergence from the Neandertals.
Neandertals, the closest evolutionary relatives of present-day humans, lived in large parts of Europe and western Asia before disappearing 30,000 years ago. We present a draft sequence of the Neandertal genome composed of more than 4 billion nucleotides from three individuals. Comparisons of the Neandertal genome to the genomes of five present-day humans from different parts of the world identify a number of genomic regions that may have been affected by positive selection in ancestral modern humans, including genes involved in metabolism and in cognitive and skeletal development. We show that Neandertals shared more genetic variants with present-day humans in Eurasia than with present-day humans in sub-Saharan Africa, suggesting that gene flow from Neandertals into the ancestors of non-Africans occurred before the divergence of Eurasian groups from each other.
With the exception of Neanderthals, from which DNA sequences of numerous individuals have now been determined, the number and genetic relationships of other hominin lineages are largely unknown. Here we report a complete mitochondrial (mt) DNA sequence retrieved from a bone excavated in 2008 in Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia. It represents a hitherto unknown type of hominin mtDNA that shares a common ancestor with anatomically modern human and Neanderthal mtDNAs about 1.0 million years ago. This indicates that it derives from a hominin migration out of Africa distinct from that of the ancestors of Neanderthals and of modern humans. The stratigraphy of the cave where the bone was found suggests that the Denisova hominin lived close in time and space with Neanderthals as well as with modern humans.
The recovery of DNA sequences from early modern humans (EMHs) could shed light on their interactions with archaic groups such as Neandertals and their relationships to current human populations. However, such experiments are highly problematic because present-day human DNA frequently contaminates bones [1, 2]. For example, in a recent study of mitochondrial (mt) DNA from Neolithic European skeletons, sequence variants were only taken as authentic if they were absent or rare in the present population, whereas others had to be discounted as possible contamination [3, 4]. This limits analysis to EMH individuals carrying rare sequences and thus yields a biased view of the ancient gene pool. Other approaches of identifying contaminating DNA, such as genotyping all individuals who have come into contact with a sample, restrict analyses to specimens where this is possible [5, 6] and do not exclude all possible sources of contamination. By studying mtDNA in Neandertal remains, where contamination and endogenous DNA can be distinguished by sequence, we show that fragmentation patterns and nucleotide misincorporations can be used to gauge authenticity of ancient DNA sequences. We use these features to determine a complete mtDNA sequence from a approximately 30,000-year-old EMH from the Kostenki 14 site in Russia.
DNA sequences determined from ancient organisms have high error rates, primarily due to uracil bases created by cytosine deamination. We use synthetic oligonucleotides, as well as DNA extracted from mammoth and Neandertal remains, to show that treatment with uracil-DNA-glycosylase and endonuclease VIII removes uracil residues from ancient DNA and repairs most of the resulting abasic sites, leaving undamaged parts of the DNA fragments intact. Neandertal DNA sequences determined with this protocol have greatly increased accuracy. In addition, our results demonstrate that Neandertal DNA retains in vivo patterns of CpG methylation, potentially allowing future studies of gene inactivation and imprinting in ancient organisms.
We present a method of targeted DNA sequence retrieval from DNA sources which are heavily degraded and contaminated with microbial DNA, as is typical of ancient bones. The method greatly reduces sample destruction and sequencing demands relative to direct PCR or shotgun sequencing approaches. We used this method to reconstruct the complete mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genomes of five Neandertals from across their geographic range. The mtDNA genetic diversity of the late Neandertals was approximately three times lower than that of contemporary modern humans. Together with analyses of mtDNA protein evolution, these data suggest that the long-term effective population size of Neandertals was smaller than that of modern humans and extant great apes.
Analysis of Neandertal DNA holds great potential for investigating the population history of this group of hominins, but progress has been limited due to the rarity of samples and damaged state of the DNA. We present a method of targeted ancient DNA sequence retrieval that greatly reduces sample destruction and sequencing demands and use this method to reconstruct the complete mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genomes of five Neandertals from across their geographic range. We find that mtDNA genetic diversity in Neandertals that lived 38,000 to 70,000 years ago was approximately one-third of that in contemporary modern humans. Together with analyses of mtDNA protein evolution, these data suggest that the long-term effective population size of Neandertals was smaller than that of modern humans and extant great apes.
Polymorphism data in humans suggest that the gene encoding the transcription factor FOXP2, which influences speech and language development, has been subject to a selective sweep within the last 260,000 years. It has been proposed that one or both of two substitutions that occurred on the human evolutionary lineage and changed amino acids were the targets for selection. In apparent contradiction to this is the observation that these substitutions are present in Neandertals who diverged from humans maybe 300,000-400,000 years ago. We have collected polymorphism data upstream and downstream of the substitutions. Contrary to what is expected, following a selective sweep, we find that the haplotypes extend across the two sites. We discuss possible explanations for these observations. One of them is that the selective sweep reflected in FOXP2 polymorphism data was not associated with the two amino acid substitutions.
Recent advances in high-thoughput DNA sequencing have made genome-scale analyses of genomes of extinct organisms possible. With these new opportunities come new difficulties in assessing the authenticity of the DNA sequences retrieved. We discuss how these difficulties can be addressed, particularly with regard to analyses of the Neandertal genome. We argue that only direct assays of DNA sequence positions in which Neandertals differ from all contemporary humans can serve as a reliable means to estimate human contamination. Indirect measures, such as the extent of DNA fragmentation, nucleotide misincorporations, or comparison of derived allele frequencies in different fragment size classes, are unreliable. Fortunately, interim approaches based on mtDNA differences between Neandertals and current humans, detection of male contamination through Y chromosomal sequences, and repeated sequencing from the same fossil to detect autosomal contamination allow initial large-scale sequencing of Neandertal genomes. This will result in the discovery of fixed differences in the nuclear genome between Neandertals and current humans that can serve as future direct assays for contamination. For analyses of other fossil hominins, which may become possible in the future, we suggest a similar boot-strap approach in which interim approaches are applied until sufficient data for more definitive direct assays are acquired.
The successful reconstruction of an ancient bacterial genome from archaeological material presents an important methodological advancement for infectious disease research. The reliability of evolutionary histories inferred by the incorporation of ancient data, however, are highly contingent upon the level of genetic diversity represented in modern genomic sequences that are publicly accessible, and the paucity of available complete genomes restricts the level of phylogenetic resolution that can be obtained. Here we add to our original analysis of the Yersinia pestis strain implicated in the Black Death by consolidating our dataset for 18 modern genomes with single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data for an additional 289 strains at over 600 positions. The inclusion of this additional data reveals a cluster of Y. pestis strains that diverge at a time significantly in advance of the Black Death, with divergence dates roughly coincident with the Plague of Justinian (6(th) to 8(th) century AD). In addition, the analysis reveals further clues regarding potential radiation events that occurred immediately preceding the Black Death, and the legacy it may have left in modern Y. pestis populations. This work reiterates the need for more publicly available complete genomes, both modern and ancient, to achieve an accurate understanding of the history of this bacterium.
DNA that survives in museum specimens, bones and other tissues recovered by archaeologists is invariably fragmented and chemically modified. The extent to which such modifications accumulate over time is largely unknown but could potentially be used to differentiate between endogenous old DNA and present-day DNA contaminating specimens and experiments. Here we examine mitochondrial DNA sequences from tissue remains that vary in age between 18 and 60,000 years with respect to three molecular features: fragment length, base composition at strand breaks, and apparent C to T substitutions. We find that fragment length does not decrease consistently over time and that strand breaks occur preferentially before purine residues by what may be at least two different molecular mechanisms that are not yet understood. In contrast, the frequency of apparent C to T substitutions towards the 5-ends of molecules tends to increase over time. These nucleotide misincorporations are thus a useful tool to distinguish recent from ancient DNA sources in specimens that have not been subjected to unusual or harsh treatments.
The Neolithic transition from hunting and gathering to farming and cattle breeding marks one of the most drastic cultural changes in European prehistory. Short stretches of ancient mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from skeletons of pre-Neolithic hunter-gatherers as well as early Neolithic farmers support the demic diffusion model where a migration of early farmers from the Near East and a replacement of pre-Neolithic hunter-gatherers are largely responsible for cultural innovation and changes in subsistence strategies during the Neolithic revolution in Europe. In order to test if a signal of population expansion is still present in modern European mitochondrial DNA, we analyzed a comprehensive dataset of 1,151 complete mtDNAs from present-day Europeans. Relying upon ancient DNA data from previous investigations, we identified mtDNA haplogroups that are typical for early farmers and hunter-gatherers, namely H and U respectively. Bayesian skyline coalescence estimates were then used on subsets of complete mtDNAs from modern populations to look for signals of past population expansions. Our analyses revealed a population expansion between 15,000 and 10,000 years before present (YBP) in mtDNAs typical for hunters and gatherers, with a decline between 10,000 and 5,000 YBP. These corresponded to an analogous population increase approximately 9,000 YBP for mtDNAs typical of early farmers. The observed changes over time suggest that the spread of agriculture in Europe involved the expansion of farming populations into Europe followed by the eventual assimilation of resident hunter-gatherers. Our data show that contemporary mtDNA datasets can be used to study ancient population history if only limited ancient genetic data is available.
Related JoVE Video
Journal of Visualized Experiments
What is Visualize?
JoVE Visualize is a tool created to match the last 5 years of PubMed publications to methods in JoVE's video library.
How does it work?
We use abstracts found on PubMed and match them to JoVE videos to create a list of 10 to 30 related methods videos.
Video X seems to be unrelated to Abstract Y...
In developing our video relationships, we compare around 5 million PubMed articles to our library of over 4,500 methods videos. In some cases the language used in the PubMed abstracts makes matching that content to a JoVE video difficult. In other cases, there happens not to be any content in our video library that is relevant to the topic of a given abstract. In these cases, our algorithms are trying their best to display videos with relevant content, which can sometimes result in matched videos with only a slight relation.