Home > Science > Breaking News: Sources of DNA on the Shroud of Turin

Breaking News: Sources of DNA on the Shroud of Turin

October 6, 2015

Such diversity does not exclude a Medieval origin in Europe but it would be also compatible with the historic path followed by the Turin Shroud during its presumed journey from the Near East. Furthermore, the results raise the possibility of an Indian manufacture of the linen cloth.


two papers have highlighted some concerns about [… the radiocarbon measurements] determination, and a Medieval age does not appear to be compatible with the production technology of the linen nor with the chemistry of fibers obtained directly from the main part of the cloth in 1978.


imageONLINE NOW:  An important new paper was published yesterday at Nature.com: Uncovering the sources of DNA found on the Turin Shroud by Gianni Barcaccia, Giulio Galla, Alessandro Achilli, Anna Olivieri  & Antonio Torroni  

<< Published Online October 5, 2015, doi: 10.1038/srep14484 >>

Abstract:

The Turin Shroud is traditionally considered to be the burial cloth in which the body of Jesus Christ was wrapped after his death approximately 2000 years ago. Here, we report the main findings from the analysis of genomic DNA extracted from dust particles vacuumed from parts of the body image and the lateral edge used for radiocarbon dating. Several plant taxa native to the Mediterranean area were identified as well as species with a primary center of origin in Asia, the Middle East or the Americas but introduced in a historical interval later than the Medieval period. Regarding human mitogenome lineages, our analyses detected sequences from multiple subjects of different ethnic origins, which clustered into a number of Western Eurasian haplogroups, including some known to be typical of Western Europe, the Near East, the Arabian Peninsula and the Indian sub-continent. Such diversity does not exclude a Medieval origin in Europe but it would be also compatible with the historic path followed by the Turin Shroud during its presumed journey from the Near East. Furthermore, the results raise the possibility of an Indian manufacture of the linen cloth.

image

Categories: Science
  1. Tristan Casabianca
    October 6, 2015 at 5:14 am

    Of course, what strikes me the most are not the cautious conclusions, but the simple fact that this kind of paper could be accepted in a Nature Journal with direct references to Riani, Rogers and Poulle.

    I think that the results regarding Plants Dna should now be compared with a new paper just published in a much less serious peer-reviewed (?) journal: Gérard Lucotte, “Exploration of the Face of the Turin Shroud. Pollens Studied by SEM Analysis”, Archeological Discovery, 3, 4, 2015. http://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?PaperID=60135

    And another fresh peer-reviewed paper also here, on pareidolia and the TS: Sheen, M., & Jordan, T. R. (2015). Effects of Contextual Information on Seeing Pareidolic Religious Inscriptions on an Artifact: Implications for the Shroud of Turin. Perception, 0301006615607156. http://pec.sagepub.com/content/early/2015/09/30/0301006615607156.abstract

    • piero
      October 6, 2015 at 11:21 am

      I have just seen that Lucotte (= Exploration of the
      Face of the Turin Shroud. Pollens Studied by SEM Analysis)
      indicated Max Frei and Hugh Farey …
      But Lucotte is an expert of “molecular anthropology” (…)
      and then he is not a true expert in the field of pollen.
      In that paper Dr. Lucotte thanked again Dr Thierry Derouin,
      Director of the “Palynological Unit at the Muséum
      d’Histoire Naturelle de Paris”…
      This personage was already thanked in the paper:
      “Optical and chemical characteristics of the mineral
      particles found on the face of the Turin Shroud”
      for his facilities to use the Zeiss photomicroscope
      “and for his help to study the sample in petrographic microscopy”…

      Following what wrote Lucotte, Frei seems had wrongly
      estimated pollen distribution density in his work.

      In any case I have some doubt about the exact amount
      of pollen in the estimation…
      So…
      We can try to see, with simple calculation, what happens
      starting from the new data (triangle area =
      0.42 mm sqared) indicated by Lucotte

      Here the simplest calculations about the presumed
      triangle surface, starting from what Lucotte wrote:
      >…a small (1.36 mm height, 614 μm wide) sticky tape
      triangle at the surface of which portions of fibers,
      spores, pollen grains and some plaques of organic matter…

      So, this is:
      1.36 mm multiplied by 0.614 mm =
      0.835 squared mm, but (because it’s a triangle area)
      we have to divide by 2 = 0.418 Square Millimeters.
      (=0.42 mm squared. Lucotte was exact!)

      Then the estimation is:
      ten pollen in near 0.5 mm Square Millimeters,
      0.42 Square Millimeters to be more exact.

      And this is equal to:
      2380 pollen per square centimeters!!!
      Then, here, Lucotte seems to be wrong,
      because he (in his new study) has estimated
      a rough amount of twenty pollen for cm squared.
      (instead Max Frei estimated [only an oral report]
      only “about one pollen grain per square centimetre of tape”).

      Am I wrong in my remark?
      — —
      Further remark:
      Are we sure about the conservation conditions
      for that adhesive tape?
      — —
      Thaks for your kindly attention.

      Links:

      http://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?PaperID=60135

      http://www.academicjournals.org/article/article1380797812_Lucotte.pdf

      https://www.shroud.com/pdfs/n79part8.pdf

      — — —-
      In any case (as we have just seen)
      we have to deal with particular things,
      very far from serious works of statistical estimation…

      Here, as a possible key (in order to try to understand
      the “pollen puzzle” …or only aa a “material to discuss”!),
      there is a past message by “OK”
      (dated: November 6, 2013 at 2:50 pm):

      >…Hugh: It is interesting, is it not, that after
      vacuuming approximately 10 000 cm2 (yes I’m
      guessing – how big is it?) of the tunic of Argenteuil,
      115 pollen grains were found.

      >Marion & Lucotte write that more pollens
      were found, but approximately 2/3 of them
      are damaged. 115 were identified under SEM. …
      — —
      Link:
      https://shroudstory.com/2013/11/06/of-similarities-the-tunic-of-argenteuil-and-the-shroud-of-turin/
      — — —
      I think we’ll can be more serious about pollen investigations!!.

      • piero
        October 6, 2015 at 11:30 am

        Useful details for eventual absent minded readers
        (…or only a little bit distracted):

        100 mm squared divided by 0.42 mm squared =
        238.095

        and

        238.095 multiplied by 10 = 2380.95
        (presumed pollen grains)

        that, rounded, are:
        2380 pollen per square centimeters!!!

  2. Louis
    October 6, 2015 at 9:05 am

    The authors cite the research by Professor Giulio Fanti on the DNA, mentioned in q/a 9:
    https://www.academia.edu/8841978/Professor_Giulio_Fanti_discusses_the_controversies_in_the_realm_of_Shroud_studies
    They do not say from which Indian language the word “sindia” or “sindien” came from. It does not seem to be Sanscrit. Actually silk and not linen is what India is known for and there is a paper written by an expert:
    http://www.exoticindiaart.com/book/details/textiles-in-ancient-india-IDG856/
    Curiously, the Spanish Jesuit historian and archaeologist Father Henry Heras, who taught at Saint Xavier’s College, Bombay, and who also deciphered the script used in the Indus Valley Civilisation, thought that the “three kings” who went to see baby Jesus may have been from Western India. He found some cultures in Western India where gold and frankincense were given as presents to babies:
    . http://www.manresa-sj.org/stamps/1_Heras.htm

    • Louis
      October 6, 2015 at 3:42 pm

      Further to the comment above, I found something on “History of clothing in ancient India” on Wikipedia. There is mention of the Harappan (Indus Valley Civilisation) custom of dyeing cloth and there seems to be evidence of dyeing with red madder:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_clothing_in_India

      • Sampath Fernando
        October 6, 2015 at 4:56 pm

        Thank you Louis. Also must thank Dan for publishing this article.

        New Testament does not tell anything about mission of Thomas in India. However we know that Thomas came to India and spread the Gospel. Also we know that Thomas was killed in Chennai.

        Why Thomas was sent to India?

        During Jesus time many Jewish Traders visited India and Sri lanka. Also we know that there were some Jewish colonies in South India and Sri Lanka before the birth of Jesus and and also after the death of Jesus. Still there are Christians in India who believe that their church was established by Thomas.

        Most probably Joseph of Arimathia must have bought the linen cloth to wrap Jesus from a Jewish Trader who came from India to Jerusalem to sell various items during the passover.

        • Louis
          October 6, 2015 at 6:15 pm

          Hello Sampath
          If the cloth was really manufactured in India, it may have come from the Dravidian Cholas or from the Indo-Aryan people who were in the Indus valley.
          Jewish presence in Sri Lanka dates to the 13th century, with the arrival of Portuguese Jewish merchants. In Índia the Nasranis, Jewish-Christians, arrived in the 1st century. They may have followed the route of the apostle Thomas.
          Many documents were lost when the Jews were caught in the crossfire between the Portuguese and Dutch in 16th century Cochin.

        • Sampath Fernando
          October 6, 2015 at 6:40 pm

          Louis – Methodist Hymn book has picture of Syrian Cross dated 4th century found in Anuradhapura Sri Lanka.

        • Louis
          October 6, 2015 at 7:02 pm

          Sampath, it must have come from the Nasranis, the Jewish-Christians in Kerala, who were influenced by Syrian art. There is at least one church in Kerala that has a synagogue-like interior.

  3. Louis
    October 6, 2015 at 10:09 am

    More breaking news:
    “Shroudie” elected as Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East.
    Mar Gewargis Sliwa was been elected as Gewargis III, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East. He was consecrated at Saint John’s Cathedral, Erbil, Iraq:
    https://uk.sports.yahoo.com/photos/mar-gewargis-sliwa-speaks-elected-catholicos-patriarch-assyrian-photo-154214348.html;_ylt=AwrB8p_s4hNWvygAiyajzbkF;_ylu=X3oDMTBxNG1oMmE2BHNlYwNmcC1hdHRyaWIEc2xrA3J1cmwEaXQD

  4. October 6, 2015 at 11:09 am

    Thanks Dan, Tristan & Louis, a lot of good info to read.

  5. Louis
    October 6, 2015 at 11:19 am

    You’re welcome, OK.
    I hope you can get information about the roughly 2000 microphotographs in Turin, which may be of use to you since you are good when it comes to imaging.

  6. October 6, 2015 at 11:27 am

    In the old list of Max Frei there are only two genuses (not species) which are present in the list of Barcaccia et al.: Carpinus and Prunus. Neither is typical of Middle East.

  7. piero
    October 6, 2015 at 11:47 am

    I am curious about the pollen tube…

    For example:
    “The pollen tube: a soft shell with a hard core”

    The Plant Journal
    Volume 73, Issue 4, pages 617–627, February 2013

  8. Gabriel
    October 6, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    I would suggest Barcaccia to perform a final test of 018 and deuterium on their samples and check the separation lines outlined in a peer-reviewed paper by DeNiro et al. Relation between D/H ratios and 18O/ 16O ratios in cellulose from linen and maize—Implications for paleoclimatology and sindonology
    If the linen is from India it would clearly appear so.

  9. piero
    October 7, 2015 at 8:32 am

    I tried to find something in order to solve a curious
    and particular problem:
    Where we can find useful data about “Measurement of
    Calcium isotope ratio in pollen”?
    …But, unfortunately, I have not yet solved this problem…

    Here a vague reference:
    Fractionation of stable calcium isotopes in tissues of date palm trees
    I. Platzner and N. Degani

    Biological Mass Spectrometry
    Volume 19, Issue 13, pages 822–824,
    20 December 1990.

    Abstract
    >Calcium is an important element in animal
    and plant tissues, but nothing is known with
    regard to the fractionation of its stable isotopes
    in biological systems.
    >In this work the results of calcium isotope fractionation
    in date palms are reported.
    >The palm is a dioecious tree, and thus its pollen
    is easily collected.
    >A comparison was made between leaves and
    pollen from two trees that are approximately
    70 km apart, growing in different geographical locations.
    >Fruit pulp and seeds from the same fruit were also
    compared.
    >The results of this work imply preferential depletion
    of the heavy calcium isotopes in tissues associated with reproduction.

    Link:
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bms.1200191306/abstract

    Have you an useful hint?

  10. piero
    October 8, 2015 at 9:31 am

    I hope you will forgive me for my previous work
    on this topic “Sources of DNA on the Shroud of Turin”
    since they were quite out of focus …

    At the end of the Abstract (of “Uncovering the
    sources of DNA found on the Turin Shroud”),
    published online (October 5, 2015), we can read:
    “… Furthermore the results raise the possibility of
    an Indian manufacture of the linen cloth.”

    Instead the book (At least, in the Italian edition
    that I bought in date: March 8, 2014… Then,
    see the Chapter 8: “Novità e futuri sviluppi” =
    “Novelties and future developments” …)
    of Prof. Eng. Giulio Fanti and his pupil
    Pierandrea Malfi didn’t indicate that
    particular possibility.
    — —
    Yes.
    >…At the time of Jesus’ birth, gold, frankincense
    and myrrh were traditional gifts given to royalty
    in the Middle East, says Fred Horton,
    John T. Albritton Professor of the Bible at Wake Forest. …

    >…Gold, frankincense and myrrh were very highly
    valued in Middle Eastern culture at that time. …

    >…Myrrh was far more rare in the era of Jesus’ birth. …

    Link:
    http://www.wfu.edu/wfunews/2000/120400g.htm

    But this vague hint doesn’t constitute a solid proof
    about the manufacture of the Shroud…
    Perhaps the analytical expertise of Marco Leona,
    director of the scientific section of Metropolitan Museum
    of Art (NY) can tell us something on that interesting argument.
    — — —
    Dan,
    you are living “not too far” from that Museum of NY …
    and then (perhaps) you can do something of
    concrete in this direction.

    What is your opinion about Marco Leona and
    his Raman Spectroscopy expertise?

    See for example the investigations on
    “madder species” (but “on wool fibers”!):
    “Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy of
    various madder species on wool fibers: the role
    of pseudopurpurin in the interpretation of the spectra”
    Diana C. Rambaldi, Federica Pozzi, Nobuko Shibayama,
    Marco Leona and Frank D. Preusser

    Article first published online:
    26 MAY 2015
    Journal of Raman Spectroscopy

    Link:
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jrs.4726/abstract

    What is your answer?

    • piero
      October 8, 2015 at 9:50 am

      Errata corrige:
      >I hope you will forgive me for my previous messages

      Instead of:
      >I hope you will forgive me for my previous work
      — — —
      Here the complete “Abstract”
      about the work by Marco Leona,
      Diana C. Rambaldi and other researchers:

      >Madder has been used as a textile dye
      and pigment in works of art since antiquity.
      >Madder dyes from different botanical species
      are characterized by different series of anthraquinone
      derivatives.
      >The occurrence of one or more of these
      compounds in various relative amounts may
      provide a useful indication of the plant species
      used to obtain the dye. In this work, surface-enhanced
      Raman spectroscopy (SERS) was applied to
      the analysis of textile fibers dyed with madder
      from two different botanical species, Oldenlandia
      umbellata L. and Rubia tinctorum L.
      >The resulting SERS spectra were interpreted
      in light of the actual composition of the madder
      dyes as determined by high-performance liquid
      chromatography. Interestingly, the SERS spectra
      were found to exhibit very distinctive spectral
      features depending on the different anthraquinone
      derivatives present in the dyes. In particular, the
      SERS spectrum of O. umbellata L. was found to
      match the spectrum of alizarin, while the SERS
      spectrum of R. tinctorum L. was surprisingly
      dominated by signals due to the less studied
      anthraquinone compound pseudopurpurin.
      >With this study, we demonstrate that SERS spectra
      may offer valuable information regarding the major
      coloring constituents present in different madder species.
      >Moreover, our work shows that not only can SERS
      be used successfully to differentiate among closely
      related anthraquinone derivatives, but also that
      this technique is particularly suitable for the detection
      of pseudopurpurin, leading to the identification of
      this compound in a number of works of art.

      Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
      — —
      I want to add that I don’t believe
      this interesting (but possible misleading …or mad?!?)
      “problem about investigation on madder”
      (this also in reference to “the madder-dyed
      Shroud” by Adrie van Hoeven and to the
      previous words by Louis:
      “…There is mention of the Harappan (Indus Valley
      Civilisation) custom of dyeing cloth and there
      seems to be evidence of dyeing with red madder…”)
      as the “main solving key” for Turin Shroud Enigma…

  11. Louis
    October 8, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Louis makes it a point to substantiate what he writes:
    http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/i/indian-textiles-introduction/

  12. piero
    October 8, 2015 at 11:32 am

    First of all:
    Dyeing techniques (I am a technician dyer …):
    >Distinctive features of Indian textiles include
    the use of madder dye, which gives a vibrant
    red, and a consistent range of decorative motifs.
    >Madder comes from the roots of a herbaceous
    climbing plant known as ‘chay’. … etc. …

    Words found under the same link:
    http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/i/indian-textiles-introduction/

    Yes…
    But in our time, marked by the emergence of
    specific techniques (and then, here,
    I can refer also to the CRISPR technique)
    is certainly interesting to talk about DNA …

    Link:
    http://labiotech.eu/sorry-crispr-youll-have-to-wait-another-year-to-win-a-nobel-prize/

    >Even if CRISPR was in the short-list to win the prize,
    this trio’s DNA repairing mechanisms were awarded
    the Nobel prize in Chemistry (which if we’re honest
    at Labiotech, did not see coming at all…).
    >Arguably, one possible reason for this is that
    Lindahl & co.’s discovery is over 30 years old,
    whilst the gene-editing system CRISPR/Cas9
    was only published in 2012. CRISPR is
    currently occupied in an intense patent war … …
    >…CRISPR will therefore probably have to wait one
    (or several) years before their discovery is
    considered ‘seasoned’ enough to join the Nobel elite. …

    Link:
    http://labiotech.eu/nobel-prize-2015-dna-repairing-mechanism-keeps-alive-rewarded/

    • piero
      October 8, 2015 at 11:41 am

      >Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar
      won the prize for “mechanistic studies of DNA repair.”
      >Their work mapped how cells repair deoxyribonucleic
      acid (DNA) to prevent damaging errors from
      appearing in genetic information.
      >In many forms of cancer, one of more of
      these repair systems is broken. …

      Link:
      http://in.reuters.com/article/2015/10/07/nobel-prize-chemistry-idINKCN0S10ZS20151007

      … And what do we do instead?
      We (ie: prof. Fanti, until now)…,
      we were only able to break linen fibers …
      … or maybe get to ramble on the stories of India …
      Luckily there is a picture of what can happen to
      the Face (with emissions from the mouth and nose)
      of a living person covered by cloth or
      a dead person without the use of the Sudarium
      of Oviedio …

  13. piero
    October 8, 2015 at 11:51 am

    Errata corrige:
    >of Oviedo …

    Instead of:
    >of Oviedio …

    Please, oberve the model of the DNA helix that
    sits on the desk by professor Sara Snogerup Linse,
    member of the Nobel Assembly…
    —- —
    Do you know Engineered Zinc finger proteins?
    See for example:

    Methods Mol Biol. 2014;1148:89-107.

    Light-inducible gene regulation with engineered zinc finger proteins.
    Polstein LR, Gersbach CA.

    Here an excerpt from the abstract:

    >… This system, Light-Inducible Transcription
    using Engineered Zinc finger proteins (LITEZ),
    is based on the blue light-induced interaction of
    GIGANTEA and the LOV domain of FKF1 that
    drives the localization of a transcriptional activator
    to the DNA-binding site of a highly customizable
    engineered zinc finger protein.

  14. piero
    October 8, 2015 at 11:52 am

    Errata corrige:
    >observe

    Instead of:
    >oberve !

  15. jlafan2001
    October 8, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    So, doesn’t the lack of mass spectrometry evidence for the invisible reweaving and now this plant DNA from India close the door on the shroud being real? Couple that with the issue that the Middle East pollen was misidentified, there is no biliruben in the blood and that other images have 3D properties, what does the shroud have left? It seems to me that the evidence that was for the shroud being real is being undermined more and more to a point that it makes one wonder how anyone can still accept it.

    • Hugh Farey
      October 8, 2015 at 9:51 pm

      “So, doesn’t the lack of mass spectrometry evidence for the invisible reweaving and now this plant DNA from India close the door on the shroud being real?” No, it doesn’t. It is, in its way, as circumstantial as much of the evidence supporting the authenticity of the Shroud. Any individual’s view of the Shroud – even those for whom none of the contrary evidence holds any water at all – is ultimately based on a balance of evidence, not on anything conclusive. Yet.

  16. Louis
    October 8, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    Josephus linked the “Ophir” of the Old Testament to Índia and we know that the country was one the ancient civilisations where there was flax cultivation. Perhaps that is why Orit Shamir did not find similar cloth in Israel and Joseph of Arimathea may have bought the cloth because he had the money. This is just speculation and the authors of the Shroud paper recently published in Italy do not explain the origin of the word “sindon” clearly.
    There is still a lot to be done in Shroud research when it comes to reweaving, pollen grains, bloodstains and much more.

  17. daveb of wellington nz
    October 8, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    I perceive a different aspect of this story. I suspect that the good people of Turin may still be locked into a medieval mind-set concerning their relic. It generates tourist dollars for their hotels, cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops, tour guides, and even perhaps the occasional Fiat. But only so long as the mystery or enigma remains. Bring in the scientists, let them study the micrographs, and the truth may then be revealed, and it’s no longer the mystery that it was. The fear is that the cloth may be proved to be not what it appears to be. Goodbye to the tourist dollars. Goodbye to the worshippers.

    But what if indeed it is the burial cloth of the Christ? We can get no closer to the answer, because of this simony. Millions are deprived of knowing the truth, all because of the lame excuse that the scientists are too disputative, too skeptical, too arrogant or too whatever. So likely as not, so long as the fear remains, we will never know the truth.

  18. Sampath Fernando
    October 9, 2015 at 3:33 am

    From where Scientists took a sample to do Mass spectrometry and Carbon Dating. Is it a reliable sample. Why scientists did not take a representative sample from the Shroud?

    From where scientists took a sample to do DNA testing. Can we consider that sample as a representative one?

    However no one knows how the imaged was formed on the Shroud of Turin.

    Which scientist can prove that there is no God.

    I think same way no scientist can tell exactly how the image on Shroud was formed.

  19. Kelly Kearse
    October 9, 2015 at 6:09 am

    Representative sampling: There is a link in the article to Supplementary Information provided by the authors which diagrams the regions of the Shroud that were vacuumed

    Regarding “this plant DNA from India”, the reference in the paper was made to specific Human mt DNA haplogroups (M56 and R8) of Indian ancestry.

    As the authors point out, such findings could result from the manufacture of the cloth in India (workers touching the cloth) or people traveling from India to a site where the Shroud was located. For that matter, similar results could be seen if the cloth had never been in India and a person who had never lived in India touched the cloth (but had a maternal grandmother of Indian origin). The word origin of “Sindon” is also raised as a possibility for an Indian connection.

    If sufficient genetic differences existed among flax from different regions of the world, and DNA of the cloth fiber itself were examined, this might provide more info

  20. Matthew L.
    October 9, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    I really wish I could understand this! This is the type of paper that is really complicated for someone like me. Anyone care to summarize briefly?

  21. Kelly Kearse
    October 9, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    There were two types of DNA that were studied using vacuum dusts taken from the Shroud: plant DNA & human (mitochondrial) DNA. The map diagrams in the paper illustrate the regions throughout the world that such signals are primarily associated with. A previous posting had confused the authors discussion of human DNA (from India) plant DNA.

    The studies show that DNA from multiple plant species and (not surprisingly) multiple persons are present on the cloth. With the latter findings, It’s important to emphasize that this is not DNA isolated from bloodstains threads themselves, but from vacuumed surface dusts.

    When a DNA signal is detected that correlates with a particular geographical location, India, for example, it’s impossible to know from just that data exactly how or when that DNA signal got there. The authors are appropriately cautious & conservative in their conclusions.

    For example, If someone who lived in the U.S. told you they found fifty euros in their pants pocket, it’s possible they could have traveled to Italy recently and obtained it themselves. It’s also possible that someone else could have traveled from Italy to the U.S. and given it to them. Even still, a third party could have received it from someone else and placed it there. Without other info, one is unable to distinguish between the possibilities-all you can really say is that the fifty euros is there. Sort of like the bird DNA they found on the Shroud-maybe a bird landed directly on the cloth at some point or perhaps the bird landed on a plant, that eventually came in contact with the cloth.

    The comment about DNA from flax refers to sequencing (plant) DNA from the Shroud fibers as opposed to the surface dusts. For this to be particularly meaningful, enough genetic variation would have to exist among flax from different geographical regions-I don’t know if this is the case or not. (The flax genome has been recently sequenced).

    This wasn’t particularly brief, but I hope it helps.

    • Matthew L.
      October 9, 2015 at 9:16 pm

      Thanks Kelly, it did help. As always, you conveyed your message with clarity! Enjoy your work on the blood, and I think everyone would agree you are an important member among Shroud researchers.

  22. piero
    October 10, 2015 at 4:35 am

    Kelly,
    Thank you for your contribution…
    — —
    I have just found a study:
    “The genome of flax (Linum usitatissimum)
    assembled de novo from short shotgun sequence reads.”
    by
    Wang Z, Hobson N, Galindo L, Zhu S, and other researchers

    Plant J. 2012 Nov;72(3):461-73.
    Epub 2012 Aug 14.

    © 2012 The Authors. The Plant Journal © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

    Here an excerpt from the Abstract
    >Flax (Linum usitatissimum) is an ancient
    crop that is widely cultivated as a source of fiber,
    oil and medicinally relevant compounds.
    >To accelerate crop improvement, we
    performed whole-genome shotgun
    sequencing of the nuclear genome of flax.
    >Seven paired-end libraries ranging in size
    from 300 bp to 10 kb were sequenced using
    an Illumina genome analyzer.
    >A de novo assembly, comprised exclusively of
    deep-coverage (approximately 94× raw, approximately
    69× filtered) short-sequence reads (44-100 bp),
    produced a set of scaffolds with N(50) =694 kb,
    including contigs with N(50)=20.1 kb.
    >The contig assembly contained 302 Mb of
    non-redundant sequence representing an
    estimated 81% genome coverage.
    >Up to 96% of published flax ESTs aligned to
    the whole-genome shotgun scaffolds.
    >However, comparisons with independently
    sequenced BACs and fosmids showed some
    mis-assembly of regions at the genome scale.
    >A total of 43384 protein-coding genes were
    predicted in the whole-genome shotgun assembly,
    and up to 93% of published flax ESTs, and 86%
    of A. thaliana genes aligned to these predicted
    genes, indicating excellent coverage and
    accuracy at the gene level. … … etc. … etc. …

    Links:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22757964

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-313X.2012.05093.x/full

    >…SOAPdenovo is a de Bruijn graph-based assembly program…

    Do you know what is a de Bruijn graph?

    Links:

    http://ojs.academypublisher.com/index.php/jsw/article/viewFile/jsw090821602168/9782

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Bruijn_graph

    http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=6616523
    — — —
    Perhaps Kelly can provide us some additional information
    about the use of “Whole-genome shotgun assembly”…

    Here two “WGS links”:

    http://www.genomebiology.com/2015/16/1/26

    http://www.illumina.com/applications/cancer/research/cancer-dna-sequencing/cancer-whole-genome-seq.html

    Sorry…
    I am going too far…

  23. Kelly Kearse
    October 10, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    The shotgun approach is useful when an entire genome (all of the DNA needed to encode an organism) is being sequenced. The DNA is sheared or cleaved into many small fragments and then each fragment is separately sequenced (Like a shotgun that scatters many pellets as opposed to a single focused shot). Based on homology/overlaps, the sequence of the entire genome is then assembled from the data. The de Bruijn program would assist in this.

    It’s analogous to a single person trying to copy a very large book: it’s a lot of work and would take a lot of time. It’s much more efficient, much less error prone if the work is divided between many scribes who each copy a few pages, many of them being duplicates or overlapping with that copied by another scribe. In the end, the work is then collated and assembled.

  24. Kelly Kearse
    October 10, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    As a separate comment, It is interesting that in the most recent study, the amplification methods allowed the detection of the DNA of a bird and that of a marine worm. Certain gene sequences from the mitochondria of these organisms must overlap sufficiently with that of humans to result in the detection of even faint contaminants.

    It is reasonable that mtDNA from cows, rabbits, goats, etc. (other mammals) would be much more closely related to human sequences than those of bird or worms, and would therefore have had an even greater chance of detection (although none was reported). This is relevant as mitochondrial DNA analysis has been used previously to detect the types of animal glues used as a binder in various artworks: http://www.researchgate.net/publication/47451001_Tracing_the_biological_origin_of_animal_glues_used_in_paintings_through_mitochondrial_DNA_analysis

    http://www.ijcs.uaic.ro/public/IJCS-14-33-Eriksen.pdf

    • anoxie
      October 11, 2015 at 1:51 am

      Hi Kelly,

      It reminds me of your article about the origin of the blood stains. Are these sequences specific enough to rule out primate mtDNA in their sample?

      Thank you,

  25. Kelly Kearse
    October 11, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    Good question-yes, I think so, assuming there is sufficiently homology there-certainly the authors would have mentioned it if found. Not that I think you’re doing this, but the current studies do not readily extrapolate to the bloodstains. The bloodstains would need to be examined directly. DNA sequencing has the advantage over immunological testing there in that it shows both the similarities as well as the differences; immunological (antibody) tests just show reactivity or no reactivity. Only similarities are revealed, making it difficult to distinguish between the two (primate vs. human); although antibodies are now available (2010) that can do this. On the other hand, immunological testing has the advantage over sequencing in that it specifically denotes a blood cell product; with DNA sequencing, you can’t tell if the signal comes from blood cells or skin cells. DNA rearrangement of immune receptor genes (specific for lymphocytes, i.e. white blood cells ) would have to be examined, if doable, to specifically claim that a DNA signal was present from blood cells.

    • anoxie
      October 13, 2015 at 12:53 am

      Ok, thank you for your answer. It is extrapolating but who would not?
      We’re talking about linking mtDNA to human groups, the first question a journalist would ask would be about the TS man’s blood and to which extent we can link his DNA to an actual human group.
      What is the probability that we have the mtDNA of the TS man in this sample, what is the amount of DNA material from white blood cells (visually the amount of blood seems huge) we can expect…
      People have been focusing on the C14 question, but maybe the big one is DNA and white blood cells’ DNA as you pointed in your article.

  26. Kelly Kearse
    October 13, 2015 at 10:17 am

    I think the only thing that is certain is that it is at best uncertain.
    [Include bracketed version for long form].

    In the current study, vacuumed dusts were evaluated, not bloodstains, and there is obvious contamination (multiple sources). To begin to make any specific conclusion about the DNA present in bloodstains, sample(s) would have to be taken directly from there. Regarding the amount of DNA material, who knows? Degradation and contamination could preclude any meaningful interpretation, but (only my opinion), you don’t know until you look. The bloodstains may hold somewhat of an advantage in that samples could be taken from the back of the cloth (even below the surface to minimize visual alteration). Sampling from multiple sites (CODIS approach) is absolutely key.

    [Separate from the most recent report, DNA studies have the potential to address additional questions, including confirmation of blood type, blood touch up throughout the years, and if other types of blood (cow, goat, chicken, etc.) might also exist on the cloth, (in addition to primate which was reported). The only other species for which any data exists is rabbit, which serendipitously fell out of the previous studies years ago (in control samples). The species question could also be approached serologically, in ways that maximize the sample (using a sequential approach on a single sample).]

    It is important to bear in mind that even sampling from bloodstained areas technically does not prove that the DNA signal originated from blood cells. In the Garza-Valdes studies, bloodstained fibers were reported to be positive for the betaglobin gene (a subunit of hemoglobin). All one can conclude is that the sample tested positive for betaglobin DNA. Skin cells also contain the betaglobin gene. Similarly, skin cells and lymphocytes both contain mtDNA.

    [To definitely prove that the DNA signal originated from blood cells, one would need a means to distinguish a signal that was uniquely present in one cell type but not the other. Lymphocytes are unique among all cell types in the body in that their receptor genes (immunoglobulin, T cell receptor) undergo DNA rearrangement as part of their normal development. The variability that exist among immune receptors is beyond huge, but there are certain so-called constant regions without such variability (e.g. kappa light chain) adjoining the splice, which could potentially allow rearrangement to be evaluated. Of course, degradation could be a major obstacle, though much is being done with smaller & smaller amounts of DNA.]

    I think there are a lot of Shroud questions to focus on, C-14 and DNA are just two of them. Even apart from DNA studies, there are many basic questions about the Shroud bloodstains that remain unresolved. The most important question to focus on, above all, is the message which the Shroud represents. This extends across scientific disciplines (and beyond). The message will remain, whether the Shroud is authentic or not.

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