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Microbiol Spectr. 2016 Aug;4(4). doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.EMF-0006-2015.

Paleomicrobiology: a Snapshot of Ancient Microbes and Approaches to Forensic Microbiology.

Abstract

Paleomicrobiology, or the study of ancient microorganisms, has raised both fascination and skepticism for many years. While paleomicrobiology is not a recent field, the application of emerging techniques, such as DNA sequencing, is proving essential and has provided novel information regarding the evolution of viruses, antibiotic resistance, saprophytes, and pathogens, as well as ancient health and disease status, cultural customs, ethnic diets, and historical events. In this review, we highlight the importance of studying ancient microbial DNA, its contributions to current knowledge, and the role that forensic paleomicrobiology has played in deciphering historical enigmas. We also discuss the emerging techniques used to study the microbial composition of ancient samples as well as major concerns that accompany ancient DNA analyses.

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