Special Issue "Revealing the Puzzle of the Past through Ancient Biomolecules: From Wild to Tame Faunal Diversity"

A special issue of Diversity (ISSN 1424-2818).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 November 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Ioana Nicoleta Meleg
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. "Emil Racoviță" Institute of Speleology of the Romanian Academy, Calea 13 Septembrie, nr. 13, 050711 Bucharest, Romania
2. Emil G. Racoviță Institute, Babeș-Bolyai University, Clinicilor 5-7, 400006 Cluj-Napoca, Romania
3. Centre for Palaeogenetics, Svante Arrhenius väg 20C, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
4. Department of Bioinformatics and Genetics, Swedish Museum of Natural History, 10405 Stockholm, Sweden
Interests: ancient DNA; cave; ecology; population genomics
Dr. Beatrice Simona Kelemen
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Faculty of Biology and Geology, 5-7 Clinicilor Street, 400006 Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Interests: bioarchaeology; molecular anthropology; ancient DNA; historical domesticated stocks

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Starting four decades ago, the study of ancient biomolecules gave us the opportunity to disentangle the complexity of processes that shaped the ancient faunal diversity across millennia at an unprecedented molecular level. Studies addressing demographic dynamics, divergence and admixture among populations, determining probable causes of species extinction and how humans impacted the genetics and ecology of wild and domestic species first used short mitochondrial DNA fragments, then eventually whole genomes, epigenomes, proteomes, and even lipids. However, even now, few studies explore the possibility of interdisciplinary biomolecular approaches to reveal ancient faunal diversity dynamics in relation to environmental and anthropic impact.

In this Special Issue of Diversity we aim to bring the story of extinct and extant faunal diversity to life, from wild to domesticated populations, retrieved from subsurface and surface archaeological and palaeontological deposits, by analysing ancient biomolecules (DNA, proteins, lipids, and stable isotopes). The manuscripts should provide insight and present new challenges and perspectives on the spatio-temporal ancient faunal diversity within palaeoecological contexts.

We hope this Special Issue will approach a broad variety of topics and species, from the extinct Pleistocene megafauna to ancient and medieval wild and domestic stocks, and offer a better understanding of drivers of past faunal diversity on Earth.

Papers proposing meaningful contributions on faunal diversity, independently of analysed marker source and specific topic, are welcome.

Dr. Ioana Nicoleta Meleg
Dr. Beatrice Simona Kelemen
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Diversity is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • ancient DNA
  • wild and domestic ancient fauna
  • genomics
  • epigenomics
  • proteomics
  • ancient biomolecules (DNA, proteins, lipids, stable isotopes)
  • sedimentary ancient DNA
  • bimolecular archaeology and palaeontology, palaeoecology

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

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Article
MtDNA D-Loop Diversity in Alpine Cattle during the Bronze Age
Diversity 2021, 13(9), 449; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13090449 - 19 Sep 2021
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Abstract
The Bronze Age in Europe is characterized by major socio-economic changes, including certain aspects of animal husbandry. In the Alpine region archaeozoological data, though not very abundant, reveal that cattle were the most important domestic animals in this time period. They were probably [...] Read more.
The Bronze Age in Europe is characterized by major socio-economic changes, including certain aspects of animal husbandry. In the Alpine region archaeozoological data, though not very abundant, reveal that cattle were the most important domestic animals in this time period. They were probably used differently in the lowlands than at higher altitude, traction became more important and people increasingly exploited them for dairy products rather than for meat. Thus, a crucial question in this context is whether these major events are accompanied by changes in genetic diversity of cattle. Here we report partial mtDNA d-loop data (320 bp) obtained by PCR from 40 alpine cattle excavated at different sites in South Tyrol, Italy, and Grisons, Switzerland. Most cattle belong to the main European taurine T3 haplogroup, but a few members of T2 and Q haplogroups were identified. Moreover, genetic diversity measures and population genetic statistics indicate different cattle histories at different sites, including bottlenecks and potential admixture. However, Bronze Age Alpine cattle appear to be linked to modern rural cattle mainly from Italy. Full article
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Article
Shedding Light on the Dark Ages: Sketching Potential Trade Relationships in Early Medieval Romania through Mitochondrial DNA Analysis of Sheep Remains
Diversity 2021, 13(5), 208; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13050208 - 13 May 2021
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Abstract
Southeast Europe has played an important role in shaping the genetic diversity of sheep due to its proximity to the Danubian route of transport from the Near East into Europe, as well as its possible role as a post-domestication migration network and long [...] Read more.
Southeast Europe has played an important role in shaping the genetic diversity of sheep due to its proximity to the Danubian route of transport from the Near East into Europe, as well as its possible role as a post-domestication migration network and long tradition of sheep breeding. The history of Romania and, in particular, the historical province of Dobruja, located on the shore of the Black Sea, has been influenced by its geographical position at the intersection between the great powers of the Near East and mainland Europe, with the Middle Ages being an especially animated time in terms of trade, migration, and conflict. In this study, we analyzed the mitochondrial control region of five sheep originating from the Capidava archaeological site (Dobruja, Southeast Romania), radiocarbon dated to the Early Middle Ages (5–10th century AD), in order to better understand the genetic diversity of local sheep populations and human practices in relation to this particular livestock species. The analyses illustrate high haplotype diversity in local medieval sheep, as well as possible genetic continuity in the region. A higher tendency for North to South interaction, rather than East to West, is apparent, together with a lack of interaction along the Asian route. Continuous interaction between the First Bulgarian Empire, which occupied Dobruja starting with the 7th century AD, and the Byzantine Empire is indicated. These results might suggest expanding trade in Southeast Romania in the Early Middle Ages. Full article
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Review

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Review
Ancient Faunal History Revealed by Interdisciplinary Biomolecular Approaches
Diversity 2021, 13(8), 370; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13080370 - 10 Aug 2021
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Abstract
Starting four decades ago, studies have examined the ecology and evolutionary dynamics of populations and species using short mitochondrial DNA fragments and stable isotopes. Through technological and analytical advances, the methods and biomolecules at our disposal have increased significantly to now include lipids, [...] Read more.
Starting four decades ago, studies have examined the ecology and evolutionary dynamics of populations and species using short mitochondrial DNA fragments and stable isotopes. Through technological and analytical advances, the methods and biomolecules at our disposal have increased significantly to now include lipids, whole genomes, proteomes, and even epigenomes. At an unprecedented resolution, the study of ancient biomolecules has made it possible for us to disentangle the complex processes that shaped the ancient faunal diversity across millennia, with the potential to aid in implicating probable causes of species extinction and how humans impacted the genetics and ecology of wild and domestic species. However, even now, few studies explore interdisciplinary biomolecular approaches to reveal ancient faunal diversity dynamics in relation to environmental and anthropogenic impact. This review will approach how biomolecules have been implemented in a broad variety of topics and species, from the extinct Pleistocene megafauna to ancient wild and domestic stocks, as well as how their future use has the potential to offer an enhanced understanding of drivers of past faunal diversity on Earth. Full article
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