October 24, 2011

The Iceman's genome cometh... not yet

The Iceman genome cometh - October 24, 2011
To get a better grip on his ancestry and predisposition to disease, Albert Zink, head of the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Bolzano, and his team sequenced Ötzi’s 3 billion base pair nuclear genome from a shard of hip bone. Their sequence covers more than 90 percent of the Iceman’s genome. Their team also analysed DNA preserved in Ötzi’s stomach in hopes of revealing the microbes that colonized his gut.

Zink says his team is keeping most of the results of these studies under wraps, pending publication. They had hoped to have the paper out in time for last week’s Mummy Congress and a television special called Iceman Murder Mystery.

His team plans to use the sequence to determine Ötzi’s status for genetic variations linked to diseases in modern humans, particularly arthrosclerosis. A full nuclear genome will also paint a more detailed picture of the Iceman’s ancestry and his relationship to present-day humans. Zink’s team will ask whether Ötzi is an ancestor of people living in Central Europe today, or whether he and his kin died out and were replaced by migrants from elsewhere, such as the Middle East. To buff up this analysis, they are analysing DNA preserved in the skeletons of other ancient inhabitants of central Europe.

I don't get why we can't have Otzi's genome sequence out in the open already. I realize that it's a precious resource that can lead to lots of publications for the people involved, but at the expense of delaying the use of the genome by everyone else. Otzi wasn't a milk drinker but he is sure as hell being milked dry by the people in charge.

11 comments:

pconroy said...

Wow, "they are analyzing DNA preserved in skeletons of other ancient inhabitants of Central Europe"

Does this mean they will publish not one sequence, but a few??

Jack Rusher said...

@pconroy I was just about to comment to that effect, and also to complain that the whole thing is even worse if they're sitting on *several* high resolution samples of Central European ancient DNA.

Onur said...

Otzi wasn't a milk drinker but he is sure as hell being milked dry by the people in charge.

We don't know whether he was a milk drinker or not. All we know on that issue is that he did not carry any of the currently known mutations that confer lactose tolerance. But as many of the lactose tolerance genes in humans probably have not been found yet, there is a good chance that he was lactose tolerant.

Joshua Lipson said...

Or perhaps the descendant of a Neolithic lineage from the Middle East that died out in Europe?

Dienekes said...

All we know on that issue is that he did not carry any of the currently known mutations that confer lactose tolerance

I was referring both to his lack of the lactose tolerance mutation, as well as the contents of his stomach, at least as they have appeared in the media.

AdygheChabadi said...

There is a preview of something concerning this on a forthcoming PBS Nova National Geographic special on October 26th:

The Iceman Murder
http://video.pbs.org/video/2126510328/

DagoRed said...

Something begins to emerge. Scholars argue that the transhumance began only in the Bronze Age, so Otzi was not a shepherd, he didn't bring goats on the high grazing , as someone think.
It seems that the arrow that killed him is made with flint of the plateau of Verona, the flint in the hands of Otzi probably came from a region between Vicenza and Verona called Lessina.
Why he climbed to 3200 meters and who chased him , or held out an ambush to him in that place, we'll never know.

DagoRed said...

I have only one question to which it is impossible to answer.
Otzi had valuables thinghs , clothes and tools and the copper ax, but the murderer, or the murderers, have not taken anything.
I think it's a very strange thing. It seems the murderer was in hurry.

Gioiello said...

DagoRed says: "the flint in the hands of Otzi probably came from a region between Vicenza and Verona called Lessina".

There isn't a place called "Lessina", but the "Monti Lessini" and we can say "Lessinia". If I hypothesized you were an Italian, now I am understanding you aren't.

DagoRed said...

@Gioiello
I missed a I, it was Lessinia, of course.

DagoRed said...

I'm italian from Lazio, near Rome, but I think this isn't so important.