February 10, 2006
Wooly Mammoth Genome Sequenced
Scientists have managed to successfully sequence the genome of the long-extinct wooly mammoth.
This the oldest genome yet sequenced- and quite a feat it is: the wooly mammoth in question is 33,000 years dead and the entire species has been extinct for about 10,000 years.
The reason why this find is important is for our understanding of the elephant evolution. There is a long-standing discussion whether the mammoth was more closely related to the present-day Asian -or African elephants. This research is suggesting it might be the Asian in the end.
“Although previous studies have shown that the problem with using ancient DNA in evolutionary studies is that DNA modifications can lead to artifact mutations accumulating in postmortem material and, therefore, produce errors in sequences; the strategies and data provided by Rogaev et al demonstrate that their long genomic sequence is essentially free from such artifacts and that the mammoth genome is authentic. Further, they have demonstrated that large DNA fragments can be isolated from ancient specimens recovered from permafrost conditions and that the complete genes can be directly cloned or reconstructed for animals that disappeared from the earth many thousand years ago.”