Swedish midsummer brings a lot of feelings, and sometimes some nostalgia. So where does it take us, nostalgia? Perhaps to a laboratory in Uppsala some 10 years ago or so. Where I was loading a minigel with some 20 PCR products. After having extracted DNA from some freaking ancient domesticates (cause back in those days this was the closest we got to ancient humans, since nobody trusted ancient DNA from humans to really be ancient, and anybody claiming to have ancient sapiens DNA was considered crazy, a special kind of crazy). And after having amplified this DNA with ridiculous amounts of Taq polymerase over unbelievable amounts of PCR cycles. To squeeze something out of it. And maybe, just maybe, this time I was lucky, maybe I had products in two of the twenty wells (it may have been the time when the woman doing modern wolverines next to me got pissed off because she only had positives in 38 of her 40 wells…). And maybe one of these two products actually made sense after sequencing, and maybe I was able to write a paper up on a 231bp fragment from seven ancient domesticates after yet some 50 more gels.
We have come a long way in ancient DNA over the latest decade. And I may think back with some pride of what I have been a part of over the years, but it is never with nostalgia. I do not want to trade our HiSeq data for the old D-loop data, not any day of the week, not any day of the year. We used the tools we had back then to the best of our abilities, but we have much better tools now.
The way ancient DNA gels used to look