Standards for ancient protein studies set forth
An international research team, including researchers at the University of Turin, have published a set of guidelines for Palaeoproteomics, a discipline that uses innovative technologies for the analysis and sequencing of ancient proteins.
According to the guidelines published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, scientists can now use the surviving proteins to study a variety of aspects: from extinct species to past human diets to the evolution of diseases. Ancient proteins can be used to reconstruct the relationships between extinct animals, track the spread of prehistoric dairying, characterize immune responses in individuals who died thousands of years ago, providing answers to some of the questions that scientists ask.
Palaeoproteomics came to the attention of scientists in recent years, becoming a rapidly growing line of research, but, being a young discipline, it was necessary to establish rigorous and shared standards to avoid data misinterpretation.
For this reason, the authors set out a number of ‘good practices’ for the sampling, generation, analysis, processing and open access publication of data.
“This study also stems from the experience of a laboratory dedicated to the selection of ancient samples for Palaeoproteomics that has recently been established here at the University of Turin thanks to the ‘Rita Levi Montalcini Programme for young researchers’ and the support of the Rector and my colleagues”, said Beatrice Demarchi, Turin University Department of Life Sciences and Systems Biology. “It is therefore a reflection on the state of the art of a discipline that wants to be accessible to researchers in both scientific fields and humanities, while maintaining the same methodological rigour”.