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Experience Makes a Difference

Academic studies. Career exploration. Community involvement.

We aim to enrich undergraduate education in the Faculty of Social Sciences through fostering unique approaches to learning within the classroom and more actively engaging students in the community, as well as promoting strong relationships between academic studies, career exploration and community involvement.

About Us

The McMaster Ancient DNA Centre approaches a wide range of evolutionary and molecular biological questions using DNA and proteins from archaeological, paleontological, and forensic remains. We use state-of-the-art techniques to extract and sequence these molecules, discerning origins and population histories of a wide range of species, both extinct and extant. This allows us to follow evolution in action, directly testing models based on modern theory and observation.

The questions we address range from highly technical ones such as…

  • How long and under what circumstances does DNA persist in various fossil and geologic contexts?
  • How can we reliably and efficiently access even the most degraded of DNAs?
  • Can ancient DNA be repaired to make it more accessible?
  • How can we adapt modern techniques in DNA sequencing to ancient and forensic DNA?

To more evolutionary based questions…

  • How were past diseases different from their present-day strains?
  • What was the genetic diversity in extinct mammoth populations?
  • Why did the North American megafauna (mammoths, sloths, horses) all go extinct?
  • What were the giant ground sloths of the American Southwest eating over the last 40,000 years?

A 16th century Escherichia coli draft genome associated with an opportunistic bile infection

It is the first ancient genome of Escherichia coli and was also responsible for creating several gallstones.
Jun 16, 2022

Pleistocene mitogenomes reconstructed from the environmental DNA of permafrost sediments

No bones about it: assembling mitochondrial genomes of Pleistocene fauna over 40,000 years from open-air sediments allows for the phylogenetic analysis of multiple megafauna despite the absence of macro-biological tissues.
Jan 10, 2022

Collapse of the mammoth-steppe in central Yukon as revealed by ancient environmental DNA

Ancient environmental DNA reconstructs the Pleistocene-Holocene ecological transition using permafrost sediments from central Yukon and finds evidence for the mid-Holocene survival of horse and woolly mammoth
Dec 08, 2021