The petrous bone contains high concentrations of osteocytes: One possible reason why ancient DNA is better preserved in this bone

Jamal Ibrahim, Vlad Brumfeld, Yoseph Addadi, Sarah Rubin, Steve Weiner, Elisabetta Boaretto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

The characterization of ancient DNA in fossil bones is providing invaluable information on the genetics of past human and other animal populations. These studies have been aided enormously by the discovery that ancient DNA is relatively well preserved in the petrous bone compared to most other bones. The reasons for this better preservation are however not well understood. Here we examine the hypothesis that one reason for better DNA preservation in the petrous bone is that fresh petrous bone contains more DNA than other bones. We therefore determined the concentrations of osteocyte cells occluded inside lacunae within the petrous bone and compared these concentrations to other bones from the domestic pig using high resolution microCT. We show that the concentrations of osteocyte lacunae in the inner layer of the pig petrous bone adjacent to the otic chamber are about three times higher (around 95,000 lacunae per mm3) than in the mastoid of the temporal bone (around 28,000 lacunae per mm3), as well as the cortical bone of the femur (around 27,000 lacunae per mm3). The sizes and shapes of the lacuna in the inner layer of the petrous bone are similar to those in the femur. We also show that the pig petrous bone lacunae do contain osteocytes using a histological stain for DNA. We therefore confirm and significantly expand upon previous observations of osteocytic lacuna concentrations in the petrous bone, supporting the notion that one possible reason for better preservation of ancient DNA in the petrous bone is that this bone initially contains at least three times more DNA than other bones. Thus during diagenesis more DNA is likely to be preserved in the petrous bone compared to other bones.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0269348
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume17
Issue number10 October
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Ibrahim et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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