This paper describes our recent extraction of ancient DNA (aDNA) from Holocene pollen and discusses the potential of the technique for elucidating timescales of evolutionary change. We show that plastid DNA is recoverable and usable from pollen grains of Scots pine Pinus sylvestris from 10 ka and 100 years ago. Comparison of the ancient sequences with modern sequences, obtained from an extant population, establish a first genetic link between modern and fossil samples of Scots pine, providing a genetic continuity through time. One common haplotype is present in each of the three periods investigated, suggesting that it persisted near the lake throughout the postglacial. The retrieval of aDNA from pollen has major implications for palaeoecology by allowing (i) investigation of population level dynamics in time and space, and (ii) tracing ancestry of populations and developing phylogenetic trees that include extinct as well as extant taxa. The method should work over the last glacial oscillation, thus giving access to ancestry of populations over a crucial period of time for the understanding of the relationship between speciation and climate change.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)