Browsing by Subject "environmental DNA"

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  • Peltola, Sanni (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    In recent decades, ancient DNA recovered from old and degraded samples, such as bones and fossils, has presented novel prospects in the fields of genetics, archaeology and anthropology. In Finland, ancient DNA research is constrained by the poor preservation of bones: they are quickly degraded by acidic soils, limiting the age of DNA that can be recovered from physical remains. However, some soil components can bind DNA and thus protect the molecules from degradation. Ancient DNA from soils and sediments has previously been used to reconstruct paleoenvironments, to study ancient parasites and diet and to demonstrate the presence of a species at a given site, even when there are no visible fossils present. In this pilot study, I explored the potential of archaeological sediments as an alternative source of ancient human DNA. I collected sediment samples from five Finnish Neolithic Stone Age (6,000–4,000 years ago) settlement sites, located in woodland. In addition, I analysed a lakebed sample from a submerged Mesolithic (10,000–7,000 years ago) settlement site, and a soil sample from an Iron Age burial with bones present to compare DNA yields between the two materials. Soil samples were converted into Illumina sequencing libraries and enriched for human mtDNA. I analysed the sequencing data with a customised metagenomics-based bioinformatic analysis workflow. I also tested program performance with simulated data. The results suggested that human DNA preservation in Finnish archaeological sediments may be poor or very localised. I detected small amounts of human mtDNA in three Stone Age woodland settlement sites and a submerged Mesolithic settlement site. One Stone Age sample exhibited terminal damage patterns suggestive of DNA decay, but the time of deposition is difficult to estimate. Interestingly, no human DNA was recovered from the Iron Age burial soil, suggesting that body decomposition may not serve as a significant source of sedimentary ancient DNA. Additional complications may arise from the high inhibitor content of the soil and the abundance of microbial and other non-human DNA present in environmental samples. In the future, a more refined sampling approach, such as targeting microscopic bone fragments, could be a strategy worth trialling.
  • Marquina, Daniel; Esparza-Salas, Rodrigo; Roslin, Tomas; Ronquist, Fredrik (2019)
    DNA metabarcoding allows the analysis of insect communities faster and more efficiently than ever before. However, metabarcoding can be conducted through several approaches, and the consistency of results across methods has rarely been studied. We compare the results obtained by DNA metabarcoding of the same communities using two different markers - COI and 16S - and three different sampling methods: (a) homogenized Malaise trap samples (homogenate), (b) preservative ethanol from the same samples, and (c) soil samples. Our results indicate that COI and 16S offer partly complementary information on Malaise trap samples, with each marker detecting a significant number of species not detected by the other. Different sampling methods offer highly divergent estimates of community composition. The community recovered from preservative ethanol of Malaise trap samples is significantly different from that recovered from homogenate. Small and weakly sclerotized insects tend to be overrepresented in ethanol while strong and large taxa are overrepresented in homogenate. For soil samples, highly degenerate COI primers pick up large amounts of nontarget DNA and only 16S provides adequate analyses of insect diversity. However, even with 16S, very little overlap in molecular operational taxonomic unit (MOTU) content was found between the trap and the soil samples. Our results demonstrate that none of the tested sampling approaches is satisfactory on its own. For instance, DNA extraction from preservative ethanol is not a valid replacement for destructive bulk extraction but a complement. In future metabarcoding studies, both should ideally be used together to achieve comprehensive representation of the target community.
  • Parducci, Laura; Alsos, Inger Greve; Unneberg, Per; Pedersen, Mikkel W.; Han, Lu; Lammers, Youri; Salonen, J. Sakari; Väliranta, Minna M.; Slotte, Tanja; Wohlfarth, Barbara (2019)
    The lake sediments of Hasseldala Port in south-east Sweden provide an archive of local and regional environmental conditions similar to 14.5-9.5 ka BP (thousand years before present) and allow testing DNA sequencing techniques to reconstruct past vegetation changes. We combined shotgun sequencing with plant micro- and macrofossil analyses to investigate sediments dating to the Allerod (14.1-12.7 ka BP), Younger Dryas (12.7-11.7 ka BP), and Preboreal (