Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

100,000 Year-old DNA Sequence Allows New Look At Neandertal's Genetic Diversity

Date:
June 7, 2006
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
By recovering and sequencing intact DNA from an especially ancient Neandertal specimen, researchers have found evidence suggesting that the genetic diversity among Neandertals was higher than previously thought. The findings also suggest that genetic diversity may have been higher in earlier Neandertal periods relative to later periods that approached the arrival of humans in Europe.

A new neandertal haplotype was recovered from a 100,000 year old specimen from Scladina cave. It confirms that Neandertals and modern humans were only distant relatives but concomitantly reveals that the genetic diversity of Neandertals has been thus far underestimated.
Credit: Photo courtesy of G. Focant, Ministere de la Region Wallonne, Belgium. Publishing in the June 6th, 2006 Current Biology

By recovering and sequencing intact DNA from an especially ancient Neandertal specimen, researchers have found evidence suggesting that the genetic diversity among Neandertals was higher than previously thought. The findings also suggest that genetic diversity may have been higher in earlier Neandertal periods relative to later periods that approached the arrival of humans in Europe. Changes in genetic diversity over time are thought to reflect population events, such as low-population bottlenecks caused by disease or environmental change, as well as the influence of random genetic change. The findings are reported in the June 6th issue of Current Biology by a group of researchers including Ludovic Orlando and led by Catherine Hänni of Ecole Normale Supérieur in Lyon, France.

Related Articles


Neandertals were the only representatives of the genus Homo in Europe during most of the last 300,000 years, becoming extinct shortly after the arrival of modern humans on the continent around 30,000 years ago. Traces of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequences still present in fossilized bones have been used in past studies in an effort to identify and track the potential genetic legacy of Neandertals among modern Europeans. Though such genetic continuity would have been the hallmark of interbreeding between modern humans and Neandertals at the time of their European coexistence, the mtDNA sequences from the nine neandertal specimens that have been analyzed to date – and that lived around the time of the cohabitation period – do not match those found among modern humans, suggesting that little, if any, interbreeding took place.

In their new work, Dr. Hänni and colleagues now report the oldest Neandertal mtDNA sequence ever recovered. The Neandertal specimen analyzed consists in a molar of a 10-12 year-old child that lived in the Meuse valley (Scladina cave, Belgium) around 100,000 years ago. The specimen yielded 123bp of mtDNA – a very short section of DNA by modern sequencing standards, but a technical feat considering the very ancient source of tissue. The reason for choosing such an old specimen was simple: it unambiguously predates the period when Neandertals cohabited with modern humans. By comparing this sequence with already published – and considerably younger – Neandertal sequences, the researchers sought to reveal whether the Neandertal mtDNA pool exhibited long-term stability or drastic modification around the time of cohabitation with modern humans. There was a second reason to pay attention on the Scladina molar: it has only been discovered very recently. This means that all individuals who have been in contact with it are known, and their DNA could be sequenced to detect any possible contamination of the Neandertal sample by modern human DNA.

The Neandertal sequence from Scladina confirms that Neandertals and modern humans were only distant relatives – Neandertal sequences are all closer to each other than to any known human sequence. But the study also reveals that the genetic diversity of Neandertals has been underestimated. Indeed, the mtDNA from the Scladina sample is more divergent relative to modern humans than is mtDNA from recent Neandertals, suggesting that Neandertals were a more genetically diverse group than previously thought.

Citation: Ludovic Orlando and Catherine Hänni of CNRS, UCB Lyon 1, and Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon in Lyon, France; Pierre Darlu of INSERM and Hôpital Paul Brousse in Villejuif, France; Michel Toussaint of Ministère de la région Wallone in Namur, Belgium; Dominique Bonjean of ASBL Archéologie Andennaise in Sclayn, Belgium; Marcel Otte of Université de Liège in Liège, Belgium.

Orlando et al.: "Correspondence: Revisiting Neandertal diversity with a 100,000 year old mtDNA sequence." Current Biology 16, R400-402, June 6, 2006. www.current-biology.com


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "100,000 Year-old DNA Sequence Allows New Look At Neandertal's Genetic Diversity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 June 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060607084833.htm>.
Cell Press. (2006, June 7). 100,000 Year-old DNA Sequence Allows New Look At Neandertal's Genetic Diversity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 6, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060607084833.htm
Cell Press. "100,000 Year-old DNA Sequence Allows New Look At Neandertal's Genetic Diversity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060607084833.htm (accessed March 6, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Friday, March 6, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

What An Ancient Jawbone Could Tell Us About Human Evolution

What An Ancient Jawbone Could Tell Us About Human Evolution

Newsy (Mar. 5, 2015) — A 2.8 million-year-old jawbone could represent the most ancient member of our genus ever discovered. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ringling Bros. Eliminating Elephant Acts

Ringling Bros. Eliminating Elephant Acts

AP (Mar. 5, 2015) — The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is ending its iconic elephant acts. The circus&apos; parent company, Feld Entertainment, told the AP exclusively that the acts will be phased out by 2018 over growing public concern about the animals. (March 5) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Billionaire Paul Allen and Team Find Sunken Japanese Warship Off Philippines

Billionaire Paul Allen and Team Find Sunken Japanese Warship Off Philippines

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 4, 2015) — A team led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen finds a sunken Japanese World War 2 warship off the coast of the Philippines. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Long-Lost Ship Found? Microsoft Co-Founder Uncovers Wreckage

Long-Lost Ship Found? Microsoft Co-Founder Uncovers Wreckage

Newsy (Mar. 4, 2015) — Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen says he has discovered the wreckage of the battleship Musashi in the central Philippines. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins