Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
AgriGenomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Genome of 700,000-Year-Old Horse Sequenced

Published: Thursday, June 27, 2013
Last Updated: Thursday, June 27, 2013
Bookmark and Share
The oldest genome so far from a prehistoric creature has been sequenced by an international team.

The team, which included Dr Jakob Vinther of the University of Bristol, sequenced and analysed short pieces of DNA molecules preserved in bone-remnants from a horse frozen for the last 700,000 years in the permafrost of Yukon, Canada.

By tracking the genomic changes that transformed prehistoric wild horses into domestic breeds, the researchers have revealed the genetic make-up of modern horses with unprecedented detail.  Their findings are published today in Nature.

DNA molecules can survive in fossils well after an organism dies, not as whole chromosomes but as short pieces that could be assembled back together, like a puzzle.  Sometimes enough molecules survive so that the full genome sequence of an extinct species could be resurrected and over the past few years, the full genome sequence of a few ancient humans and archaic hominins has been characterized – but so far, none dated back more than 70,000 years.  Now Dr Ludovic Orlando and Professor Eske Willerslev from Copenhagen's Centre for GeoGenetics and colleagues have beaten this DNA-record by about 10 times.

Sequencing the first genome from the Middle Pleistocene was by no means straightforward and involved collaboration between researchers from Denmark, China, Canada, the USA, Switzerland, the UK, Norway, France, Sweden and Saudi Arabia.

Dr Vinther's contribution to the study involved looking at the amino acid composition of the bone with a Time of Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscope (TOF-SIMS).  This analysis revealed the presence of abundant secondary ions characteristic of amino-acid peptides, particularly glycine, proline and alanine.  These amino acids are characteristic of collagen which suggested that proteins had survived in situ.

Dr Orlando said: "We first got excited when we detected the signature of amino-acids that suggested proteins had survived.  We got more excited when we proved able to directly sequence collagen peptides.  When we detected blood proteins, it really started looking promising because those are barely preserved.  At that stage, it could well be that ancient DNA could also be preserved."

And indeed DNA was present – in a tiny amount.  Using Helicos true Single DNA Molecule Sequencing, the researchers managed to identify molecular preservation niches in the bone and experimental conditions that enabled finishing the full genome sequence.

Sequencing the genome allowed the scientists to track major genomic changes over the last 700,000 years of evolution of the horse lineage.  By comparing the genome in the 700,000-year-old horse with the genome of a 43,000-year-old horse, six present day horses and the donkey, they found that  the last common ancestor of all modern equids was living about 4.0-4.5 million years ago.  Therefore, the evolutionary radiation underlying the origin of horses, donkeys and zebras reaches back in time twice as long as previously thought.

Professor Willerslev said: "The results of the studies and the applied techniques open up new doors for the exploration of prehistoric living creatures.  Now with genomics and proteomics, we can reach ten times further back in time compared to before.  And new knowledge about the horse’s evolutionary history has been added – a history which is considered as a classical example in evolutionary biology and a topic which is taught in high schools and universities."


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 5,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

£1.1 Million Boost for Synthetic Biology Research in Bristol
University of Bristol scientists have been awarded a £1.1 million share of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)'s strategic Longer and Larger Awards in Synthetic Biology.
Monday, November 12, 2012
Scientific News
Modified Yeast Shows Plant Response to Key Hormone
Researchers have developed a toolkit based on modified yeast to determine plant responses to auxin.
New Discovery May Benefit Farmers Worldwide
Scientists have shown how a crop-microbe 'team' protect against fungal infection.
Antibiotic Resistance Can Occur Naturally in Soil Bacteria
Scientists have found natural anti-biotic resistant bacteria in soils with little to no human exposure.
Regulatory RNA Essential to DNA Damage Response
Researchers discover a tumour suppressor is stabilized by an RNA molecule, which helps cells respond to DNA damage.
Potential of New Insect Control Traits in Agriculture
Researchers have discovered a protein that shows promise as an alternate corn rootworm control mechanism.
Improving Crop Efficiency with CRISPR
New study of CRISPR-Cas9 technology from Virginia Tech shows potential to improve crop efficiency.
Gene Could Reduce Female Mosquitoes
Virginia Tech researchers have found a gene that can reduce female mosquitoes over many generations.
Fighting Plant Pathogens with RNA
Researchers develop strategy that could lead to environmentally friendly fungicide to fight pathogens.
Breakthrough in Plant Salt-Tolerance Research
Researchers have made a breakthrough in plant salt tolerance that could lead to new salt tollerant crop types.
Microbes Help Plants Survive In Severe Drought
Researchers discover plants survive better under drought conditions with help from natural microbes.
SELECTBIO

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,000+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!