Department of Evolutionary Genetics
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6
phone: +49 341 3550 - 500
Neandertals and More (Svante Pääbo, Department Director)
phone: +49 (0) 341 35 50 500
fax: +49 (0) 341 35 50 555
mittag@[>>> Please remove the brackets! <<<]eva.mpg.de
Three major groups of projects are pursued in the group:
Human and great ape genetic history
By comparative DNA sequencing in humans, chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans we try to gain a better understanding of the origin, time and early migrations of humans and their closest relatives.
Ancient DNA and Neandertal genomics
We develop methods for the retrieval of DNA sequences from archaeological and paleontological remains. In particular, we continuously try to improve the criteria necessary to support the authenticity of DNA sequences retrieved from ancient specimens.
We have shown that biochemical analyses are useful for gauging the preservation of macromolecules in ancient remains and that cross-links involving reducing sugars, oxidative damage and hydrolytic deamination are crucial forms of damage in ancient DNA. We develop methods that will allow longer DNA sequences and nuclear DNA sequences to be retrieved routinely.
We apply these techniques to elucidate the history of humans and Pleistocene mammals. For example, we are studying DNA sequences from Neandertals, cave bears and ground sloths. In a collaborative project with 454 Life Sciences, Branford, CT, USA we focus on the application of high-throughput sequencing techniques to the reconstruction of the Neandertal genome.
We approach the genomic differences between humans and their closest relatives at several levels. For example, we perform low-coverage shot-gun sequencing of ape genomes in order to elucidate general patterns of DNA sequence evolution. We perform extensive EST-sequencing in order to identify genes under selection and improve our understanding of the forces that determine gene evolution in primates. We study gene expression patterns in various tissues in primates and other mammals in order to understand how the transcriptome and proteome evolve. By integrated analyses of genomes, transcriptomes and proteomes, we hope to identify genes that have been positively selected during human history.