Frequent D-loop polymorphism in mtDNA enables genotyping of 1400-year-old human remains from Merowingian graves
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Improvements of DNA extraction and amplification techniques presently enable DNA analysis of ancient DNA (aDNA) from samples which range from several hundred years of age up to possibly 5000 years. Taking advantage of the abundance of mitochondrial DNA and its polymorphic D-loop sequence, ten individuals from multiple burial sites of the Merowingian culture (South Germany), estimated to be about 1400 years old, were genotyped to determine possible kinship. Moreover, gonosomal DNA markers from the X- and Y-chromosome were applied for sex determination of the remains. In all individuals investigated, deviations from the Anderson mtDNA consensus sequence were observed, all representing substitutions (7 transitions and 3 transversions). Although such mutations have been reported from recent populations, our study constitutes the first description of these mtDNA mutations from numerous aDNA samples recovered from multiple burial sites. The results obtained by molecular anthropology can aid in describing kinship relations and burial customs of ancient remains.
Publication order reference
M. Zeller, Institute of Legal Medicine, University of Tubingen, Gartenstrasse 47, D?72074 Tubingen, Germany