Ancient DNA (aDNA) is the DNA that is retrieved from old biological material. This material may be as diverse as hair from people that died a few hundred years ago, food in archaeological artefacts made thousands of years ago, coprolites found in caves, bones from species that went extinct tens of thousands of years ago, or even ice cores and sediments.
Like a molecular time machine, aDNA provides snapshots of the genetics of ancient populations, and it has revolutionised how we study many aspects of the biological past, including the population origins and movements, natural selection, evolutionary relationships and extinction of many species.
aDNA is a young but dynamic and rapidly advancing research field, where molecular biology techniques and computational analytical methods share equal relevance. It has benefitted from rapid advances in DNA genotyping and sequencing technologies over the last decade or so, as well as developments in statistical data analysis tools, including some developed here at UGI.
We produce aDNA by sequencing ancient specimens using UCL Ancient DNA lab and through collaborations with many leading research groups worldwide. We have particular interests in looking at population demographic history (including migration, admixture, population growth, etc) and signatures of natural selection. While generally interested in the power of aDNA to study the evolution of all species, at present research within UGI primarily focuses on the evolution of humans and their pathogens, animals and crops.
Our work focuses on:
- Generating aDNA data using the latest laboratory techniques.
- Developing methods for the analysis of aDNA.
- Describing the genetic structure and ancestral history of worldwide human populations.
- Determining the origins and spread of pathogens.
- Establishing the evolutionary history of crops, domestic species and non-domestic animals
- Identifying signals of adaptation in ancient populations to their local environments.
Research on Ancient DNA is funded by:
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