CRC 1266 - Scales of Transformation

F4: Tracing infectious diseases in prehistoric populations

Ancient DNA work performed in a clean lab
Ancient DNA work must be performed in a clean lab to avoid contamination with exogenous DNA. Additional protective measures involve the use of overalls, masks and gloves.

Infectious diseases are thought to have accompanied Homo sapiens throughout evolution. Many of these epidemiological changes may have taken place during important prehistorical and historical transformation processes. Project F4 aims to evaluate, whether infectious diseases co-occurred with major prehistoric demographic and/or environmental crises. To this end, several hundred well-dated human skeletal remains will be screened for the presence of known bacterial and viral pathogens by capturing and sequencing their preserved genetic material with state-of-the-art molecular techniques. This data will be compared with genomic data from present-day pathogens to develop models for the reconstruction of past and the prediction of modern epidemics.


DNA analysis calculus
Dental calculus precipitated on the lower premolars and molars. Dental calculus mineralizes during the lifetime of an individual so that DNA is extremely well preserved.

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