Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Student publishes case for faster, less expensive DNA analysis

Date:
June 28, 2011
Source:
Washington State University
Summary:
A student's undergraduate research is challenging a widely held assumption on the best way to analyze old DNA in anthropological and forensic investigations. At issue is the best way to sequence "ancient" DNA, bits of genetic code pulled from remains up to 800,000 years old.

A Washington State University student's undergraduate research is challenging a widely held assumption on the best way to analyze old DNA in anthropological and forensic investigations.

Related Articles


Sarah "Misa" Runnells' claim is weighty enough to be published this week in the peer-reviewed, online journal PLoS ONE.

At issue is the best way to sequence "ancient" DNA, bits of genetic code pulled from remains up to 800,000 years old. Such remains tend to be chemically degraded, making it difficult to draw accurate connections between, say a wooly mammoth and modern animals, or Neanderthals and humans.

The techniques are also an issue in forensic investigations where remains, while relatively new, can still be severely compromised.

In 2000, researchers writing in the journal Science recommended a set of standards that emphasized cloning bits of ancient DNA to detect errors and contamination from modern DNA.

"Those rules became gospel," says Brian Kemp, a WSU anthropologist and molecular biologist. In fact, they became so widely adopted that his preferred technique -- direct sequencing -- is often dismissed by journal reviewers.

"I've had papers outright rejected because they said, 'You did not clone,'" says Kemp.

Kemp wanted to demonstrate that direct sequencing worked just as well by directly comparing it to cloning, but he had a problem: He didn't have experience with cloning.

Then he met Runnells, who had learned to clone while majoring in biotechnology as a WSU undergraduate. The two used both methods to analyze 3,500-year-old northern fur seal bones.

"After five samples with both cloning and direct sequencing, we got the same answer from both methods," says Runnells, who has published under her soon-to-be married name of Winters.

Their findings even held up with one particularly degraded sample. Cloning gave conflicting DNA sequences in the sample, while direct sequencing showed gaps in the code.

"In no case did the results of one method conflict with another," says Kemp.

The PLoS ONE paper is the first published on a $595,000 grant Kemp received from the U.S. Department of Justice. One goal of the grant is to find more cost-effective ways of analyzing degraded DNA.

Direct sequencing can cost a fraction of cloning and be done in less time, says Kemp.

"That's really applicable to the justice system, where you want to save money and time," says Runnells, who is now a second-year Master's student in zoology.

"Everybody wants to save money and time," adds Kemp. "There are more forensic cases than they can work on. There's a backlog of forensic cases."

Direct sequencing can also be increasingly helpful to academic researchers in a time of shrinking budgets, says Kemp.

"If you have an infinite amount of resources and funding, you can do anything," he says. "You can clone everything a thousand times. It doesn't matter. But for the assistant professor at WSU who has a limited budget, we need to make smart choices."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Misa Winters, Jodi Lynn Barta, Cara Monroe, Brian M. Kemp. To Clone or Not To Clone: Method Analysis for Retrieving Consensus Sequences In Ancient DNA Samples. PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (6): e21247 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0021247

Cite This Page:

Washington State University. "Student publishes case for faster, less expensive DNA analysis." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110627183929.htm>.
Washington State University. (2011, June 28). Student publishes case for faster, less expensive DNA analysis. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110627183929.htm
Washington State University. "Student publishes case for faster, less expensive DNA analysis." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110627183929.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Buzz60 (Nov. 24, 2014) A Swedish Adventure racing team travels to try and win a world title, but comes home with something way better: a stray dog that joined the team for much of the grueling 430-mile race. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deadly Japanese Pufferfish Discovered in Crimean Waters

Deadly Japanese Pufferfish Discovered in Crimean Waters

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) The capture of deadly Japanese pufferfish in the waters of Crimea is causing concern for fishermen and scientists alike. Sharon Reich reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Terrifying Black Seadevil Fish Captured on First-of-Its Kind Video

Terrifying Black Seadevil Fish Captured on First-of-Its Kind Video

Buzz60 (Nov. 24, 2014) An aquarium captures a first-of-its kind video of a notoriously camera-shy fish that’s also not so camera-friendly. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Red Panda Cubs Explore the Bratislava Zoo

Red Panda Cubs Explore the Bratislava Zoo

AFP (Nov. 24, 2014) Four-month old Red Panda twins Pim and Pam still rely on their mother for breast milk at the Bratislava Zoo in Slovakia, but the precocious cubs have begun to branch out to solid foods, as well. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
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