Bulk Bone Metabarcoding (BBM)
Fossil bones provide a unique window into the past but they are often difficult to interpret. Only a small proportion of animals are preserved as fossils – an even smaller fraction are then recovered and able to be identified morphologically.
Bulk bone metabarcoding (BBM) is an approach that enables the characterisation of the vast amounts of non-diagnostic bone fragments collected from bone assemblages. The BBM approach involves the conversion of ‘scrap heap’ bone fragments into powder, which is then genetically indexed, amplified and sequenced.
The aim of my Frederik’s project is to apply the BBM method on fossil assemblages from ~200 sites across the globe with a strong focus on sites in Western Australia. This research will be the first to generate biodiversity data from the huge volume of non-diagnostic scrap bone recovered from paleontological and archaeological excavations that sits largely unexploited in museum and university collections.
One of the primary benefits of collectively processing hundreds of bone samples from a variety of different sites is that an extensive picture of genetic diversity in the region is rapidly constructed. Taken together, Frederik’s PhD project will address key questions concerning the spread of previous communities over the past 50,000 years, such as the effects of human colonisation on biodiversity and the course and timing of vertebrate migrations across the globe.
One well known example, where this project will deliver data, concerns the effects that the introduction of the dingo had on the biodiversity in mainland Australia ~4000 years ago. In addition, the diverse nature of the samples for this project can be used to build a detailed map of DNA preservation in specimens collected from very different surroundings. This will help inform researchers and collection managers of the feasibility for future genetic analyses based on the environment from which a sample was retrieved.
- Application Profile Reference Number: FSeersholm#57236#CU
- Proposed Research project will provide a historical perspective on biodiversity and humanity’s role in shaping it. Frederik is convinced that best-practice restoration and conservation can only be achieved if we develop a more detailed understanding of what it is we are trying to restore and conserve.