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

Department of Biotechnology, American University of Ras Al Khaimah, Ras Al Khaimah 10021, UAE
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Cells 2019, 8(5), 433; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells8050433
Received: 27 February 2019 / Revised: 17 April 2019 / Accepted: 7 May 2019 / Published: 9 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mitochondrial Genetics)
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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. View Full-Text
Keywords: mitochondrial DNA; ancient DNA; ancient trade routes; domestication; ancient leather; ancient glue; ancient human diet; mummies; burnt human remains; Louis XVII; Tsar Nicholas II; Erard; Beethoven mitochondrial DNA; ancient DNA; ancient trade routes; domestication; ancient leather; ancient glue; ancient human diet; mummies; burnt human remains; Louis XVII; Tsar Nicholas II; Erard; Beethoven
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Merheb, M.; Matar, R.; Hodeify, R.; Siddiqui, S.S.; Vazhappilly, C.G.; Marton, J.; Azharuddin, S.; AL Zouabi, H. Mitochondrial DNA, a Powerful Tool to Decipher Ancient Human Civilization from Domestication to Music, and to Uncover Historical Murder Cases. Cells 2019, 8, 433.

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