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Task 2.2.4. DNA analysis of permafrost samples

Task lead: CR05 UKBH Prof. DSc Eske Willerslev, Centre for Ancient Genetics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

DNA extracted from 859 ancient sediment samples was amplified and PCR products analyzed by high-throughput sequencing (on a Solexa sequencer).  Just under half of these samples yielded idetifiable DNA. Many millions of individual sequences were processed, and many of these could be assigned to plant taxa.  A bioinformatic procedure matched sequences with the arctic-boreal database developed by Ecochange and with publically available plant DNA databases; the results were screened to remove errors and ensure a reliable and rigorous final taxon list.
The data produced include over 100 taxa identified to the species level and many more groups of species/genera. Samples across the age range of >125,000 yr to modern produced DNA sequences, suggesting little effect of sediment age on DNA recovery.  The ancient DNA dataset forms the basis of a set analyses of past plant communities and past climate that is currently underway.

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