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Science. 2006 Jan 20;311(5759):392-4. Epub 2005 Dec 20.

Metagenomics to paleogenomics: large-scale sequencing of mammoth DNA.

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McMaster Ancient DNA Center, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton ON, L8S 4L9 Canada.


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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