Jasmin Alley MA
Marie Curie EST
University of York
YO 10 5YW
+44 (0)1904 32 8806
The prediction of DNA-survival in archaeological bones via thermal age calculation
The precondition for carrying out ancient-DNA analysis is having a sufficiently preserved DNA molecule. The preservation of DNA in archaeological/palaeontological bone and tooth samples is influenced, most frequently, by environmental conditions of the burial context. High or fluctuating temperatures, acidic pH values, humidity and the presence of microorganisms are common factors that can degrade DNA. Temperature, amongst the destructive environmental factors, is assumed to have the greatest impact on the DNA-molecule.
With that in mind, Professor Matthew Collins developed a method to reconstruct the thermal history of a sample depending on its average burial temperature, which is called Thermal Age. This is, in short, not a pure chronological estimation of the sample age, as this does not say anything about the preservation quality of a biomolecule. Instead thermal age provides an estimation of age concerning the temperature that gives information about an approximate state of preservation. To assess the applicability of thermal age we are going to correlate the PCR-Amplification success of samples to the calculated thermal age. If we detect a correlation between the DNA preservation in samples, this method will be a very useful tool in predicting DNA survival in archaeological samples.
Ancient DNA preservation, bone diagenesis, archaeology of death.