February 7, 2012
Entire Genome Of Extinct Human Decoded
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Researchers have decoded the entire genome of a fossil from an extinct species of human related to Neanderthals.
The team from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology sequenced every position in the Denisovan genome about 30 times over.
They used DNA extracted from less than 10 milligrams of the finger bone discovered in Denisova Cave in southern Siberia.
Svante PÃ¤Ã¤bo and his colleagues presented a draft version of the genome in 2010 that showed this individual came from a previously unknown group of extinct humans.
Denisovans, along with their sister group the Neanderthals, are the closest extinct relatives of modern humans.
During the 2010 research, each position of the genome was determined only twice on average. This level of resolution was only sufficient enough to establish the relationship between Denisovans to Neanderthals and modern humans.
However, they were unable to study the evolution of specific parts of the genome due to the low resolution.
Now, the team is even able to distinguish the small differences between the copies of genes it received from its mother and father.
“The genome is of very high quality”, Matthias Meyer, who developed the techniques that made this technical feat possible, said in a press release. “We cover all non-repetitive DNA sequences in the Denisovan genome so many times that it has fewer errors than most genomes from present-day humans that have been determined to date”.
This is the first complete genome sequence of an archaic human group, which could lead scientists to a better understanding of the evolutionary steps from this group to modern humans.
“We hope that biologists will be able to use this genome to discover genetic changes that were important for the development of modern human culture and technology, and enabled modern humans to leave Africa and rapidly spread around the world, starting around 100,000 years ago” PÃ¤Ã¤bo said in a press release.
The group said they plan to present a paper describing the findings later on this year.
Image 2: Researchers have now been able to sequence the entire Denisova genome using 10 milligram of a finger bone fragment that was found in the Denisova-Cave in Southern Sibiria. © MPI for Evolutionary Anthropology
On the Net:
- Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
- The genome is available at http://www.eva.mpg.de/denisova and as a Public Data Set via Amazon Web Services (AWS): http://aws.amazon.com/datasets/2357.