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New Methods For Getting DNA From Bone
This won't apply to really old stuff but I suppose it's a start...
Improved technologies for extracting genetic material from fossils
may help us find out more about our ancient ancestors.
Scientists in Israel have just developed a new technique to retrieve
better quality, less contaminated DNA from very old remains,
including human bones.
But fossil studies this far back in time have long been hindered by
contamination with foreign genetic material and the problem of
recovering long, intact DNA sequences.
The new method provides hope, however.
An improved technique for retrieving DNA from fossil bone, just
published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences (PNAS), may help.
Dr Michal Salamon, from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot,
Israel, and colleagues, showed that "crystal aggregates", small mineral
pockets formed during fossilisation, can preserve DNA better than the
rest of the bone.
They compared DNA extracted from these crystal aggregates with genetic
material taken from untreated, whole-bone powder. The samples were taken
from eight different modern and fossil bones.
They found better preserved, less contaminated DNA could be recovered
from the isolated crystals.
This approach, "significantly improves the chances of obtaining authentic
ancient DNA sequences, especially from human bones", they told PNAS.