MetaDamage tool: Examining post-mortem damage in sedaDNA on a metagenomic scale

Rosie Everett*, Becky Cribdon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Downloads (Pure)


The use of metagenomic datasets to support ancient sedimentary DNA (sedaDNA) for paleoecological reconstruction has been demonstrated to be a powerful tool to understand multi-organism responses to climatic shifts and events. Authentication remains integral to the ancient DNA discipline, and this extends to sedaDNA analysis. Furthermore, distinguishing authentic sedaDNA from contamination or modern material also allows for a better understanding of broader questions in sedaDNA research, such as formation processes, source and catchment, and post-depositional processes. Existing tools for the detection of damage signals are designed for single-taxon input, require a priori organism specification, and require a significant number of input sequences to establish a signal. It is therefore often difficult to identify an established cytosine deamination rate consistent with ancient DNA across a sediment sample. In this study, we present MetaDamage, a tool that examines cytosine deamination on a metagenomic (all organisms) scale for multiple previously undetermined taxa and can produce a damage profile based on a few hundred reads. We outline the development and testing of the MetaDamage tool using both authentic sedaDNA sequences and simulated data to demonstrate the resolution in which MetaDamage can identify deamination levels consistent with the presence of ancient DNA. The MetaDamage tool offers a method for the initial assessment of the presence of sedaDNA and a better understanding of key questions of preservation for paleoecological reconstruction.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Article number888421
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2023

Cite this