Molecular genetic aspects of ancient DNA analyses

  • Irena Zupanič Pajnič Institute of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of medicine, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Keywords: archeology, genetics, skeletal remains, damaged DNA, contamination


This review article presents molecular genetic aspects of human ancient DNA analyses and use of molecular genetic methods for study of DNA obtained from human archaeological biological materials. In archaeological biological materials, skeletal remains (bones and teeth) are often the only source of ancient DNA and we will focus on these tissues. From the literature reviewed, we will summarise which skeletal elements are most suitable for the investigation of ancient DNA and how to extract the DNA from them. The nature and preservation of ancient DNA will be described as well. However, low amount and degradation of ancient DNA causes several problems, especially when working with ancient human samples that may be contaminated with modern human DNA. To minimise the risk of contamination, several standard precautions are usually adopted and the authenticity of ancient DNA checked. We will pay special attention to these measures. The genetic markers most frequently examined in archaeogenetics and the advantages of new, high-performing sequencing techniques for the development and study of ancient DNA will be described. Using new techniques that may help us retrieve data of better quality and quantity, we can investigate more degraded DNA and thus older archaeological biological materials, thereby obtaining huge amounts of data that require the involvement of experts in the field of bioinformatics. The paper will be completed by the presentation of ancient DNA analyses performed in Slovenia.


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How to Cite
Zupanič Pajnič I. Molecular genetic aspects of ancient DNA analyses. ZdravVestn [Internet]. 24Nov.2019 [cited 2Apr.2020];:1-7. Available from: