Analysis of ancient DNA from a prehistoric Amerindian cemetery

Anne C. Stone, Mark Stoneking

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Norris Farms No. 36 cemetery in central Illinois has been the subject of considerable archaeological and genetic research. Both mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and nuclear DNA have been examined in this 700-year-old population. DNA preservation at the site was good, with about 70% of the samples producing mtDNA results and approximately 15% yielding nuclear DNA data. All four of the major Amerindian mtDNA haplogroups were found, in addition to a fifth haplogroup. Sequences of the first hypervariable region of the mtDNA control region revealed a high level of diversity in the Norris Farms population and confirmed that the fifth haplogroup associates with Mongolian sequences and hence is probably authentic. Other than a possible reduction in the number of rare mtDNA lineages in many populations, it does not appear as if European contact significantly altered patterns of Amerindian mtDNA variation, despite the large decrease in population size that occurred. For nuclear DNA analysis, a novel method for DNA-based sex identification that uses nucleotide differences between the X and Y copies of the amelogenin gene was developed and applied successfully in approximately 20 individuals. Despite the well-known problems of poor DNA preservation and the ever-present possibility of contamination with modern DNA, genetic analysis of the Norris Farms No. 36 population demonstrates that ancient DNA can be a fruitful source of new insights into prehistoric populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-159
Number of pages7
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume354
Issue number1379
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 29 1999
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Amelogenin
  • Amerindians
  • Ancient DNA
  • Genetic diversity
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Sex identification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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