Caister Academic Press

Ancient DNA and the Fingerprints of Disease: Retrieving Human Pathogen Genomic Sequences from Archaeological Remains Using Real-time Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction

G. Michael Taylor
from: Molecular Diagnostics: Current Research and Applications (Edited by: Jim Huggett and Justin O'Grady). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2014)


It is almost 20 years since the first reports of the amplification of pathogen DNA sequences from human archaeological remains. Diseases, such as tuberculosis and leprosy have been productive areas of endeavour due to their association with characteristic skeletal lesions and the robust nature of the mycobacterial cell wall. A number of other pathogens apart from mycobacteria have been successfully amplified from human remains, including the microorganisms responsible for Malaria, Leishmaniasis, Brucellosis and plague (Black Death). Information from dated contexts can further our understanding of past epidemics, both challenging and informing evolutionary models of microorganism phylogeny and global dissemination. This chapter considers the practical aspects of extracting and amplifying degraded fragments of pathogen DNA that may persist in archival tissues. It includes a discussion of the measures needed to prevent contamination and to authenticate findings, in particular, considering the many advantages of using real-time quantitative PCR methods read more ...
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