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Metagenomics to Paleogenomics: Large-Scale Sequencing of Mammoth DNA

We report the sequencing of a remarkably well-preserved Siberian woolly mammoth. Using a metagenomics approach we sequenced about 28 million reads of which 45.4% were identified as mammoth. The high percentage of endogenous DNA should enable the completion of its full genome.

Jan 20, 2006

Authors: H.N. Poinar, C. Schwarz, Ji Qi, B. Shapiro, R.D.E. MacPhee, B. Buigues, A. Tikhonov, D.H. Huson, L.P. Tomsho, A. Auch, M. Rampp, W. Miller, S.C. Schuster
Science, Vol. 311, Issue 5759, January 2006, pp. 392-394. DOI: 10.1126/science.1123360

We sequenced 28 million base pairs of DNA in a metagenomics approach, using a woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) sample from Siberia. As a result of exceptional sample preservation and the use of a recently developed emulsion polymerase chain reaction and pyrosequencing technique, 13 million base pairs (45.4%) of the sequencing reads were identified as mammoth DNA. Sequence identity between our data and African elephant (Loxodonta africana) was 98.55%, consistent with a paleontologically based divergence date of 5 to 6 million years. The sample includes a surprisingly small diversity of environmental DNAs. The high percentage of endogenous DNA recoverable from this single mammoth would allow for completion of its genome, unleashing the field of paleogenomics.

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