M.A. Theses: Jason Moore, 2011


Comparative Study of Ancient DNA Extraction Methods for Archaeological Plant Remains

Despite the potential for plant ancient DNA (aDNA) to address important archaeological questions, there are significantly fewer studies of plant aDNA compared to human and animal aDNA, partially due to a lack of research on DNA extraction methods for ancient plant remains.
            The current study uses heat to degrade modern corn, pea, and squash seeds to simulate degraded DNA associated with archaeological macro-botanical remains. I then compare DNA recovery efficiencies of three common DNA extraction methods using these artificially degraded samples. Standard and quantitative PCR are used to assess the quality and quantity of recovered DNA. 
            We have determined that the silica-spin column method is superior for degraded DNA recovery from all three plant species. Additionally, DNA recovery rates of the three methods differ across all plant species tested. We recommend that selection of extraction techniques be carefully considered to optimize recovery of DNA from ancient macro-botanical remains.           

Keywords:  ancient plant DNA; artificial DNA degradation; silica-spin column; heat treatment