New research into the analysis of DNA taken from ancient Egyptian mummies is reported in Nature.
Egyptian mummies yield genetic secrets
"The ancient Egyptians could soon be getting their genomes sequenced as a matter of routine. That’s the view, at least, of the first researchers to use next-generation techniques to analyse DNA from Egyptian mummies.
In a preliminary study that the authors describe as “a first step”, they detected hints of one of the mummies’ ancestral origins, as well as pathogens and a range of plant materials presumably used in the embalming process. The researchers, led by Carsten Pusch, a geneticist at the University of Tübingen in Germany, published their findings last week in the Journal of Applied Genetics1.
Previous studies of DNA from Egyptian mummies have used a technique called polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify specific segments of DNA. But these studies have been controversial. The PCR method is susceptible to contamination with modern DNA, especially when amplifying genes from humans or bacteria that are likely to be present in the environment."