The Grange/Geigl team recently published a book chapter i Microbial Environmental Genomics (Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB,volume 2605)
The development of next-generation sequencing has led to a breakthrough in the analysis of ancient genomes, and the subsequent genomic analyses of ancient human skeletal remains have revolutionized our understanding of human evolution. This research led to the discovery of a new hominin lineage, and demonstrated multiple admixture events with more distantly related archaic human populations such as Neandertals and Denisovans over the last 100,000 years. Moreover, it has also yielded novel insights into the evolution of ancient pathogens. The analysis of ancient microbial genomes enables the study of their recent evolution, presently covering the last several millennia. These spectacular results have been obtained despite the degradation of DNA that takes place after the death of the host and increases with time. This cumulative degradation results in very short ancient DNA molecules, low in quantity, and highly prone to contamination by modern DNA molecules, especially from human and animal DNA present in reagents used in downstream biomolecular analyses. Finally, the minute amounts of ancient molecules are further diluted in environmental DNA from the soil microorganisms that colonize bones and teeth. Thus, ancient skeletal remains can share DNA profiles with environmental samples, and the identification of ancient microbial genomes among the more recent, presently poorly characterized, environmental microbiome is particularly challenging. Here, we describe the methods developed and/or in use in our laboratory to produce reliable and reproducible paleogenomic results from ancient skeletal remains that can be used to identify the presence of ancient microbiota.