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Extraction of the mitochondrial DNA

Extraction of the mitochondrial DNA - Extraction of the...

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Extraction of the mitochondrial DNA After death, DNA starts degrading immediately. It is thought that under the most favorable conditions, some DNA fragments can survive for as long as 50,000 to 100,000 years. The Feldhofer Neandertal fossil, thought to be between 30,000 and 100,000 years old, was therefore pushing the limits for this kind of work. However initial testing of the fossil showed good preservation of amino acids, indicating that it might contain recoverable mtDNA. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is a technique which can be used to create many copies of an initially small number of molecules. The researchers used PCR to amplify and extract many short strands of mtDNA from the Neandertal sample. By overlapping these, they were able to generate a sequence of 379 bases apparently from the Neandertal individual. To protect against errors and contamination, each base was extracted in at least two separate amplifications. The sequence was extracted from a section of the mtDNA genome known as the hypervariable region 1 (HVR1), so-called because that section of the genome accumulates mutations more rapidly than most of the genome and hence is particularly useful in distinguishing between different populations.
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