Library prep preparation

19 May 2013 by Kerstin Hoppenhaus, posted in Ancient DNA, Genetics

One last time, before she sets out to test her new library preparation with real ancient material, Marie Gansauge discusses the procedure with Matthias Meyer. Instead of artificial, lab grown nucleotide sequences, she will be working now with extracts from bones and teeth, all very old, all unique in the world, all in very limited supply. Once used, there is no way to refill the stores. Wasting any is not an option.

She’s used to that, of course. Ever since she started working at the institute, she has been handling rare and irreplaceable samples – a few crumbs of bone, some fine dust drilled from an old tooth, barely visible to the naked eye, that’s how it has always been for her. For this first test, however, they stay away from the very rarest of finds and settle for a collection of more abundant samples, relatively speaking. They are still just a few specks of dust.

There are 12 „seats“ for the ride. Eight will be taken by different hominids from various times and places. The rest, one third of the setup, will be controls - some known nucleotide sequences, some plain water. Since you cannot see any of what is going on, the controls are your only way to make sure that your procedures are doing what they are supposed to do. Or, if they don’t, that you can figure out where things went wrong. Without the controls, the entire experiment would be pretty useless. Still, they take a lot of space. "I have colleagues", Marie says, "who run 16 samples in one experiment. That's great, of course. But I like my racks of twelve. A habit, I guess. And enough for me to handle, really..."

She prints out the procedure and the final sample list. Then she is good to go. To the cleanroom lab. Down, in the basement.


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