Matching Items (3)

The population history of the Caribbean: perspectives from ancient and modern DNA analysis

Description

Although the Caribbean has been continuously inhabited for the last 7,000 years, European contact in the last 500 years dramatically reshaped the cultural and genetic makeup of island populations. Several

Although the Caribbean has been continuously inhabited for the last 7,000 years, European contact in the last 500 years dramatically reshaped the cultural and genetic makeup of island populations. Several recent studies have explored the genetic diversity of Caribbean Latinos and have characterized Native American variation present within their genomes. However, the difficulty of obtaining ancient DNA from pre-contact populations and the underrepresentation of non-Latino Caribbean islanders in current research have prevented a complete understanding of genetic variation over time and space in the Caribbean basin. This dissertation uses two approaches to characterize the role of migration and admixture in the demographic history of Caribbean islanders. First, autosomal variants were genotyped in a sample of 55 Afro-Caribbeans from five islands in the Lesser Antilles: Grenada, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Trinidad, and St. Vincent. These data were used to characterize genetic structure, ancestry and signatures of selection in these populations. The results demonstrate a complex pattern of admixture since European contact, including a strong signature of sex-biased mating and inputs from at least five continental populations to the autosomal ancestry of Afro-Caribbean peoples. Second, ancient mitochondrial and nuclear DNA were obtained from 60 skeletal remains, dated between A.D. 500–1300, from three archaeological sites in Puerto Rico: Paso del Indio, Punta Candelero and Tibes. The ancient data were used to reassesses existing models for the peopling of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean and to examine the extent of genetic continuity between ancient and modern populations. Project findings support a largely South American origin for Ceramic Age Caribbean populations and identify some genetic continuity between pre and post contact islanders. The above study was aided by development and testing of extraction methods optimized for recovery of ancient DNA from tropical contexts. Overall, project findings characterize how ancient indigenous groups, European colonial regimes, the African Slave Trade and modern labor movements have shaped the genomic diversity of Caribbean islanders. In addition to its anthropological and historical importance, such knowledge is also essential for informing the identification of medically relevant genetic variation in these populations.

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Date Created
  • 2017

A low-energy, low-cost field deployable sampler for microbial DNA profiling

Description

Filtration for microfluidic sample-collection devices is desirable for sample selection, concentration, preprocessing, and downstream manipulation, but microfabricating the required sub-micrometer filtration structure is an elaborate process. This thesis presents a

Filtration for microfluidic sample-collection devices is desirable for sample selection, concentration, preprocessing, and downstream manipulation, but microfabricating the required sub-micrometer filtration structure is an elaborate process. This thesis presents a simple method to fabricate polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) devices with an integrated membrane filter that will sample, lyse, and extract the DNA from microorganisms in aqueous environments. An off-the-shelf membrane filter disc was embedded in a PDMS layer and sequentially bound with other PDMS channel layers. No leakage was observed during filtration. This device was validated by concentrating a large amount of cyanobacterium Synechocystis in simulated sample water with consistent performance across devices. After accumulating sufficient biomass on the filter, a sequential electrochemical lysing process was performed by applying 5VDC across the filter. This device was further evaluated by delivering several samples of differing concentrations of cyanobacterium Synechocystis then quantifying the DNA using real-time PCR. Lastly, an environmental sample was run through the device and the amount of photosynthetic microorganisms present in the water was determined. The major breakthroughs in this design are low energy demand, cheap materials, simple design, straightforward fabrication, and robust performance, together enabling wide-utility of similar chip-based devices for field-deployable operations in environmental micro-biotechnology.

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Date Created
  • 2011

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Studying the solution behavior of DNA and DNA sliding clamps using various fluorescence techniques

Description

Solution conformations and dynamics of proteins and protein-DNA complexes are often difficult to predict from their crystal structures. The crystal structure only shows a snapshot of the different conformations these

Solution conformations and dynamics of proteins and protein-DNA complexes are often difficult to predict from their crystal structures. The crystal structure only shows a snapshot of the different conformations these biological molecules can have in solution. Multiple different conformations can exist in solution and potentially have more importance in the biological activity. DNA sliding clamps are a family of proteins with known crystal structures. These clamps encircle the DNA and enable other proteins to interact more efficiently with the DNA. Eukaryotic PCNA and prokaryotic β clamp are two of these clamps, some of the most stable homo-oligomers known. However, their solution stability and conformational equilibrium have not been investigated in depth before. Presented here are the studies involving two sliding clamps: yeast PCNA and bacterial β clamp. These studies show that the β clamp has a very different solution stability than PCNA. These conclusions were reached through various different fluorescence-based experiments, including fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS), Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET), single molecule fluorescence, and various time resolved fluorescence techniques. Interpretations of these, and all other, fluorescence-based experiments are often affected by the properties of the fluorophores employed. Often the fluorescence properties of these fluorophores are influenced by their microenvironments. Fluorophores are known to sometimes interact with biological molecules, and this can have pronounced effects on the rotational mobility and photophysical properties of the dye. Misunderstanding the effect of these photophysical and rotational properties can lead to a misinterpretation of the obtained data. In this thesis, photophysical behaviors of various organic dyes were studied in the presence of deoxymononucleotides to examine more closely how interactions between fluorophores and DNA bases can affect fluorescent properties. Furthermore, the properties of cyanine dyes when bound to DNA and the effect of restricted rotation on FRET are presented in this thesis. This thesis involves studying fluorophore photophysics in various microenvironments and then expanding into the solution stability and dynamics of the DNA sliding clamps.

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Date Created
  • 2013