Authenticating ancient human mitochondrial DNA

R. Montiel, A. Malgosa, P. Francalacci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


The use of ancient DNA techniques in human studies has been hampered by problems of contamination with modern human DNA. The main problem has been that the object of study belongs to the same species as the observer, and the complete elimination of the contamination risk is seemingly unlikely. Contamination has even been detected in the most specialized laboratories in this field. In these kinds of studies it is therefore very important to detect contamination and to distinguish contaminants from authentic results. Here, we report the use of a strategy to authenticate the identity of ancient mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), based on the previously established relationship between D-loop sequence substitutions and haplogroup-specific restriction site changes. Forty-four individuals from a 16th-century necropolis were analyzed, from which 28 control region sequences were obtained. These sequences were preclassified into haplogroups, according to the observed motifs. Subsequently, the DNA extracts from which the sequences were obtained, along with independent extracts of subsets of the same individuals, were subjected to restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis to compare and corroborate the results. Using this approach, 24 sequences were authenticated, while two were discarded because of result mismatches. The final distribution of the haplogroups in the sample, and the differences in the sequences, are two additional criteria of authentication.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)689-713
JournalHuman Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2001


  • Ancient DNA
  • European population
  • Haplogroups
  • mtDNA sequences
  • RFLP


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