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Sequencing DNA of 27,000-Year-Old Woolly Mammoth, Researchers Point to New Field of Paleogenomics

NEW YORK, Dec. 20 (GenomeWeb News) - An international team of researchers announced this week that they have successfully sequenced a segment of a 27,000-year-old woolly mammoth's DNA.


In a paper in Science outlining the project, the authors note that the work is a step toward "paleogenomics" -- whole-genome sequencing of extinct species -- which will "answer long-standing questions in molecular evolution and allow us to tackle the molecular basis of speciation, temporal stages of gene evolution, and intermediates of selection during domestication."


The paper will be available at the Science Express website on Dec. 22.


Using a technique called pyrosequencing, researchers sequenced 28 million base pairs of nuclear DNA, normally less prevalent than mitochondrial DNA, from the jawbone of a Mammuthus primigenius sample from Siberia. Nearly half, or 13 million base pairs, belonged to the mammoth and was 98.55% consistent with the DNA of the present-day African elephant, researchers said.


Researchers sequenced other organisims found in its remains, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, and plants.


Funding came from a variety of sources, including the Natural Sciences and Environmental Research Council of Canada, McMaster University, Wellcome Trust, and the National Institutes of Health. Pennsylvania State University provided initial funding.


Researchers from Canada's McMaster University, Pennsylvania State University, Oxford University, New York's American Museum of Natural History, the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Germany's Tubingen University and Garching Computing Center collaborated on the project.

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