Research Topic

Applied Uses of Ancient DNA

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The advent of the ancient DNA field 34 years ago, with the publication of DNA sequences from the extinct Quagga, changed the way scientists look at ecology and evolution. For the first time evolution could be studied in ‘real-time’ rather than relying on contemporaneous samples to study the past. The ...

The advent of the ancient DNA field 34 years ago, with the publication of DNA sequences from the extinct Quagga, changed the way scientists look at ecology and evolution. For the first time evolution could be studied in ‘real-time’ rather than relying on contemporaneous samples to study the past. The invention of next generation sequencing technologies led to further technological advances in the field, making the sequencing of whole ancient genomes possible, allowing macro- and micro-evolutionary processes to be examined in ever finer detail. Time and again, ancient DNA, combined with archaeological, paleontological and paleoecological approaches, has been shown to be critical to understanding the how ecosystems function, now and into the future.

While the majority of ancient DNA research is focused on big picture, curiosity driven or ‘blue skies’ questions, there is a growing appreciation that ancient DNA can be used for more applied aspects of science. Increasingly, these applied uses include conservation paleontology, conservation archaeogenomics, impacts of over-harvesting (e.g. fisheries induced evolution), museum collections management (e.g. veracity of specimen labels), ecological restoration, biosecurity and taxonomy, to name a few.

In this Research Topic, we invite our colleagues in these varied disciplines to contribute original articles, new methodologies and reviews of the expanding landscape of applied uses of ancient DNA. It is more important than ever to expand the communication and publication of new scientific research in this rapidly-evolving field.


Keywords: Ancient DNA, Conservation paleontology, Conservation archaeogenomics, Over harvesting, Museum studies


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