A 5700 year-old human genome and oral microbiome from chewed birch pitch

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Jensen, Theis Z. T.  ORCID logo  https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7166-7975
Niemann, Jonas 
Iversen, Katrine Højholt  ORCID logo  https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7134-7672
Gopalakrishnan, Shyam  ORCID logo  https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2004-6810

Abstract: The rise of ancient genomics has revolutionised our understanding of human prehistory but this work depends on the availability of suitable samples. Here we present a complete ancient human genome and oral microbiome sequenced from a 5700 year-old piece of chewed birch pitch from Denmark. We sequence the human genome to an average depth of 2.3× and find that the individual who chewed the pitch was female and that she was genetically more closely related to western hunter-gatherers from mainland Europe than hunter-gatherers from central Scandinavia. We also find that she likely had dark skin, dark brown hair and blue eyes. In addition, we identify DNA fragments from several bacterial and viral taxa, including Epstein-Barr virus, as well as animal and plant DNA, which may have derived from a recent meal. The results highlight the potential of chewed birch pitch as a source of ancient DNA.

Article, /631/208/212/2142, /631/208/457, /631/208/514/1948, /706/689/19/27, /45/23, article
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Nature Communications
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Nature Publishing Group UK
Villum Fonden (Villum Foundation) (22917)
EC | Horizon 2020 Framework Programme (EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation H2020) (649307, 676154)