Monday 21 November, 2011

Ancient DNA reveals how evolution really works: climate change, humans and disease over the past 30,000 years

Prof Alan Cooper, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Adelaide

Genetic information recovered from ancient biological material is giving a unique insight into evolutionary processes. By analysing DNA from large numbers of individuals, it is possible to genetically characterise ancient populations & cultures, and to examine the timing & effects of past extinctions, colonisations and hybridisations.

This month Prof Alan Cooper, from The University of Adelaide, will talk about recent discoveries of preserved bacterial DNA found on ancient teeth that have opened the way to detailed studies about the evolution of disease and the impacts of dietary & cultural transitions.

  • Time: 6:30pm to 7:30pm, Monday the 21st of November
  • Venue: Long Room, Customs House at Riverside
  • Arrangements: Doors open at 6pm. No need to book – just show up!
  • Refreshments: There will be complimentary drinks and nibblies following the talk, where Prof. Alan Cooper will be available to answer any questions
  • Questions? For any further information please contact Andrew.

Prof. Alan Cooper was awarded a prestigious Australian Research Council Federation Fellowship award in 2004, and established the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) in 2005, which is an international standard research facility providing the specialist equipment and ultra-sterile working environment required for the study of minute traces of preserved genetic material.

Prof. Cooper specialises in using ancient DNA to record and study evolutionary processes in real time. His work ranges over timescales of hundreds of years old (eg museum specimens) to material well beyond the 60,000 year range of carbon-dating, such as permafrost-preserved bones of mammals and sediment dating to over 300,000 yr.

Prof. Cooper’s current research features studies of Australian megafaunal species, permafrost preserved material from the Arctic and Antarctic, ancient human DNA (modern human, Neandertals and Flores hominids), and DNA from sedimentary deposits (marine, terrestrial and freshwater). Recent research highlights include the use of Ice Age mammal populations to record the effects of environmental change, the first complete mitochondrial genome sequences of any extinct species (two New Zealand moas), and the study of how evolutionary rates change over time.

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