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  • Open Access English
    Authors: 
    Theis Zetner Trolle Jensen; Jonas Niemann; Katrine Højholt Iversen; Anna K. Fotakis; Shyam Gopalakrishnan; Åshild J. Vågene; Mikkel Winther Pedersen; Mikkel-Holger S. Sinding; Martin R. Ellegaard; Morten E. Allentoft; +12 more
    Countries: United Kingdom, Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Denmark
    Project: EC | ArchSci2020 (676154), EC | ECHOES (714679), EC | HERA JRP UP (649307)

    The rise of ancient genomics has revolutionised our understanding of human prehistory but this work depends on the availability of suitable samples. Here we present a complete ancient human genome and oral microbiome sequenced from a 5700 year-old piece of chewed birch pitch from Denmark. We sequence the human genome to an average depth of 2.3× and find that the individual who chewed the pitch was female and that she was genetically more closely related to western hunter-gatherers from mainland Europe than hunter-gatherers from central Scandinavia. We also find that she likely had dark skin, dark brown hair and blue eyes. In addition, we identify DNA fragments from several bacterial and viral taxa, including Epstein-Barr virus, as well as animal and plant DNA, which may have derived from a recent meal. The results highlight the potential of chewed birch pitch as a source of ancient DNA. Birch pitch is thought to have been used in prehistoric times as hafting material or antiseptic and tooth imprints suggest that it was chewed. Here, the authors report a 5,700 year-old piece of chewed birch pitch from Denmark from which they successfully recovered a complete ancient human genome and oral microbiome DNA.

Include:
1 Research products, page 1 of 1
  • Open Access English
    Authors: 
    Theis Zetner Trolle Jensen; Jonas Niemann; Katrine Højholt Iversen; Anna K. Fotakis; Shyam Gopalakrishnan; Åshild J. Vågene; Mikkel Winther Pedersen; Mikkel-Holger S. Sinding; Martin R. Ellegaard; Morten E. Allentoft; +12 more
    Countries: United Kingdom, Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Denmark
    Project: EC | ArchSci2020 (676154), EC | ECHOES (714679), EC | HERA JRP UP (649307)

    The rise of ancient genomics has revolutionised our understanding of human prehistory but this work depends on the availability of suitable samples. Here we present a complete ancient human genome and oral microbiome sequenced from a 5700 year-old piece of chewed birch pitch from Denmark. We sequence the human genome to an average depth of 2.3× and find that the individual who chewed the pitch was female and that she was genetically more closely related to western hunter-gatherers from mainland Europe than hunter-gatherers from central Scandinavia. We also find that she likely had dark skin, dark brown hair and blue eyes. In addition, we identify DNA fragments from several bacterial and viral taxa, including Epstein-Barr virus, as well as animal and plant DNA, which may have derived from a recent meal. The results highlight the potential of chewed birch pitch as a source of ancient DNA. Birch pitch is thought to have been used in prehistoric times as hafting material or antiseptic and tooth imprints suggest that it was chewed. Here, the authors report a 5,700 year-old piece of chewed birch pitch from Denmark from which they successfully recovered a complete ancient human genome and oral microbiome DNA.

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