And he preached the gospel of BEST! The 15th of February we had a joint methods-day, Mattias Jakobossons group, my group, and Mehmet Somels group. Uppsala, Stockholm, and Ankara. Between us we have some 20-30 people who are doing hands-on work in ancient DNA laboratories. Why we had a full day of sharing ideas on all aspects of ancient DNA methodology. Apart from our people, we also invited Tom Gilbert from Copenhagen to participate and inspire all parts of the discussion. I first came in contact with Tom some 15 years ago, then about some aspects of ancient DNA methodology. Now, 15 years later, he still is one of the most well-orinetated in the methods-area.
The protocol for ancient-DNA libraries developed in Copenhagen (BEST, Blut End Single Tube) caught most attention. Cheaper, faster, better, like NASA but for real. It is a safe guess that the method will be tried out in Stockholm as well as in Uppsala and Ankara. It also became obvious that although petrous-bones and cementum may hold a higher probability for preserved DNA, they do not always outperform other tissue. When discussing capture, Torsten Günther raised a red flag for randomly choosing the baits at hand, one has to know what one is fishing with and why. Other issues, like bleaching, pre-digestion, various measures of decontamination etc, were discussed too, but as these were based more on hunches and feelings than actual data, the discussion served more to spread ideas. At the end, Tom asked: ”Who would win in the ancient DNA laboratory if we forced Anders and Mattias in there?” Why Mattias answered: ”I would probably not dare to touch anything at all, while Anders would likely cause some serious damage…”
Tom, who knows more about aDNA methods than anybody else I know.