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Ancient Biomolecules and Evolutionary Inference

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Enrico Cappellini, Ana Prohaska, Fernando Racimo, Frido Welker, Mikkel Winther Pedersen, Morten Erik Allentoft, Peter de Barros Damgaard, Petra Gutenbrunner, Julie Dunne, Simon Hammann, Mélanie Roffet-Salque, Melissa Ilardo, José Victor Moreno Mayar, Yucheng Wang, Martin Sikora, Lasse Vinner, Jürgen Cox, Richard P Evershed, Eske Willerslev

Over the last decade, studies of ancient biomolecules-particularly ancient DNA, proteins, and lipids-have revolutionized our understanding of evolutionary history. Though initially fraught with many challenges, the field now stands on firm foundations. Researchers now successfully retrieve nucleotide and amino acid sequences, as well as lipid signatures, from progressively older samples, originating from geographic areas and depositional environments that, until recently, were regarded as hostile to long-term preservation of biomolecules. Sampling frequencies and the spatial and temporal scope of studies have also increased markedly, and with them the size and quality of the data sets generated. This progress has been made possible by continuous technical innovations in analytical methods, enhanced criteria for the selection of ancient samples, integrated experimental methods, and advanced computational approaches. Here, we discuss the history and current state of ancient biomolecule research, its applications to evolutionary inference, and future directions for this young and exciting field. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Biochemistry Volume 87 is June 20, 2018. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.

Original languageEnglish
Article number36
JournalAnnual Review of Biochemistry
Volume87
Number of pages32
ISSN0066-4154
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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