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The McMaster Ancient DNA Center (MAC) consists of many physically and/or geographically separated laboratories.

Each facility provides a unique purpose for different types of samples as well as for different steps in the analysis.

Main Ancient DNA Cleanrooms and Enrichment Laboratory (HSC 4N55)

These newly build ancient DNA facilities were recently opened in November 2014. Our cleanrooms were built to surpass the stringent requirements for working with ancient DNA, and to restrict the possibility of any non-endogenous contamination. The laboratory is broken down into smaller rooms for sample preparation, stock solution setup, and DNA extraction, with pressure gradients between the rooms to limit the movement of any contaminants.

Our newly constructed enrichment lab is located down the hall from our main ancient DNA laboratory. In addition to the stringent anti-contamination protocols in place within the main lab, movement in and out of this room is restricted to ensure that no amplified molecules are introduced into our cleanroom.

Both facilities are outfitted with state of the art molecular biology equipment, including two MICROLAB STAR Liquid Handling Workstations from Hamilton Robotics. All work is done within PCR workstations, by personnel in full body suits to ensure quality of work.

Isolated On-site aDNA Replication Facility (GSB B103)

This standalone facility is located across campus in the General Sciences Building (GSB) B103. Its isolation allows it to function as a prime location for independent inhouse replication of our results. In addition to containing all the equipment found in the main ancient DNA cleanroom, these facilities are certified for analysis of soil samples, and contain specialized equipment for use in more sensitive projects.

Modern DNA Lab (MDCL 4071)

Our modern DNA lab allows us to process modern and abundantly amplified samples in a safe and effective manner. In addition to another aPCR machine, this lab is also equipped to handle size selection through gel purification, to allow for the isolation of fragments of a chosen length to further optimize sequencing efficiency and processivity. Additionally, our modern DNA facilities also house our archival freezers, containing our many indexed and enriched libraries. With movement restriction protocols in place, we take great effort to ensure that any modern or amplified fragments from this lab do not enter our ancient DNA facilities.

BioBubble (MDCL 4070)

A bioBubble® brand structure is enclosed in MDCL4070, a separate room with an independent entrance from that of our post-PCR laboratory in MDCL4071. Made of aluminum frames and vinyl walls, the bioBubble is a HEPA®-filtered, positively-pressurized lab space dedicated to the manipulation of modern and synthetic DNA sources. Here we purify modern DNA samples and amplified genomic libraries, set up enrichment reactions, load amplicon standards for quantitative PCR, and on occasion manipulate potentially bio-hazardous samples.

In the age of high-throughput sequencing, much of ancient DNA research involves complex manipulation of amplified DNAs, requiring a specific suite of laboratory space logistics. The bioBubble allows us to maintain rigid anti-contamination standards vital to cutting-edge ancient DNA research, even during post-amplification procedures.