Mitochondrial DNA, a Powerful Tool to Decipher Ancient Human Civilization from Domestication to Music, and to Uncover Historical Murder Cases

Maxime Merheb, Rachel Matar, Rawad Hodeify, Shoib Sarwar Siddiqui, Cijo George Vazhappilly, John Marton, Syed Azharuddin, Hussain Al Zouabi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Abstract

Mitochondria are unique organelles carrying their own genetic material, independent from that in the nucleus. This review will discuss the nature of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and its levels in the cell, which are the key elements to consider when trying to achieve molecular identification in ancient and degraded samples. mtDNA sequence analysis has been appropriately validated and is a consistent molecular target for the examination of biological evidence encountered in forensic cases-and profiling, in certain conditions-especially for burnt bodies and degraded samples of all types. Exceptional cases and samples will be discussed in this review, such as mtDNA from leather in Beethoven's grand piano, mtDNA in mummies, and solving famous historical criminal cases. In addition, this review will be discussing the use of ancient mtDNA to understand past human diet, to trace historical civilizations and ancient trade routes, and to uncover geographical domestication origins and lineage relationships. In each topic, we will present the power of mtDNA and how, in many cases, no nuclear DNA was left, leaving mitochondrial DNA analysis as a powerful alternative. Exploring this powerful tool further will be extremely useful to modern science and researchers, due to its capabilities in providing us with previously unattainable knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Article number433
Number of pages17
JournalCells
Volume8
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2019

Keywords

  • Civilization
  • DNA, Ancient/analysis
  • DNA, Mitochondrial/genetics
  • Domestication
  • History, 18th Century
  • Homicide/history
  • Humans
  • Music

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