Taxonomic analysis and hybrid assembly of environmental DNA from ancient middens in Greenland
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Environmental samples contain a wide variety of DNA from plants, animals, bacteria and fungi, which can be used to gain unique insights into current taxonomic diversity, but also to identify the origin of ancient remains. We sequenced 57 metagenomic samples from middens left behind by the Norse colonisers of Greenland and used taxonomic assignment to predict organisms that were important for their diet. We provide evidence for the exploitation of fish, shellfish, wheat and barley by the Norse population. We also identified the causative agent of plague Yersinia pestis from middens, which has not been found before in Greenland. Furthermore, we show that genome assembly of these environmental samples can be improved by using a combination of long- and short-read sequencing data.