• Research platform MINERVA of the University of Vienna

  • We study the interactions of aDNA with and protection by diverse mineral phases

    and recover authentic aDNA from these sources.

  • We reconstruct various past anthromes and investigate the co-evolution

    of microbial and human genomes in relation to calibrated absolute time points.

  • We focus on minerals, sediments, and bones from archaeological sites

    spanning from 2 million years ago to early medieval times.

Latest publications

Ancient Mammalian and Plant DNA from Late Quaternary Stalagmite Layers at Solkota Cave, Georgia.

Metagenomic analysis is a highly promising technique in paleogenetic research that allows analysis of the complete genomic make-up of a sample. This technique has successfully been employed to archaeological sediments, but possible leaching of DNA through the sequence limits interpretation. We applied this technique to the analysis of ancient DNA (aDNA) from Late Quaternary stalagmites from two caves in Western Georgia, Melouri Cave and Solkota. Stalagmites form closed systems, limiting the effect of leaching, and can be securely dated with U-series. The analyses of the sequence data from the Melouri Cave stalagmite revealed potential contamination and low preservation of DNA. However, the two Solkota stalagmites preserved ancient DNA molecules of mammals (bear, roe deer, bats) and plants (chestnut, hazelnut, flax). The aDNA bearing layers from one of the two Solkota stalagmites were dated to between ~84 ka and ~56 ka BP by U-series. The second Solkota stalagmite contained excessive detrital clay obstructing U-series dating, but it also contained bear bones with a minimum age of ~50 BP uncalibrated years and ancient DNA molecules. The preservation of authentic ancient DNA molecules in Late Quaternary speleothems opens up a new paleogenetic archive for archaeological, paleontological and paleoenvironmental research.

Stahlschmidt MC, Collin TC, Fernandes DM, Bar-Oz G, Belfer-Cohen A, Gao Z, Jakeli N, Matskevich Z, Meshveliani T, Pritchard JK, McDermott F, Pinhasi R
2019 - Sci Rep, 1: 6628