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Video Clips: Complete Neanderthal Genome Sequenced

May 7, 2010
Jim Mullikin, Ph.D., Acting Director NIH Intramural Sequence Center during the interview.
Download the interview video (.MP4 388 MB)


Jim Mullikin, Ph.D., acting director of the NIH Intramural Sequencing Center, is a co-author on a paper in the Friday, May 7, 2010 issue of Science magazine that describes the first sequence of the Neanderthal genome. Dr. Mullikin described the work in an interview with GenomeTV.

Video Clips

Clips from the Interview with Jim Mullikin, Ph.D., on the Complete Neanderthal Genome Sequence
Name of Clip Running Time Description
1. Jim Mullikin, Ph.D., provides overview of the current paper [30.3 MB] 51 seconds Well, it has been an amazing journey with the group, led by Svante Pääbo at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany. He's been working on the study of ancient DNA for quite some time and he has analyzed the DNA from the bones of Neanderthals, and earlier on, before this study had found that you could sequence the mitochondrial DNA, which is a small subunit of the cells. But in this study, what he also found was that you could sequence the nuclear part of the DNA and get information from that as well. And that's what they did. They, through a tour-de-force, they took the small fragments they got out of the bones and sequenced it to enough coverage to cover much of the genetic material of the Neanderthal genome.
2. Dr. Mullikin describes the preparation of Neanderthal DNA for sequencing [25.6 MB] 43 seconds So, the bones that have been found range in age from about 80,000 years old to 40,000, 45,000, 40,000 years old. They are quite old and they have been in these caves, buried under layers and layers of sediment for all those 10s of thousands of years. And, when they unearthed those bones, the used, I a clean room environment, they were able to take those bones and take small bits of the bones and make it into a powder. And from that, they could extract the DNA from the powder material, and some of it, not much of it, but some of it, was actually from that the Neanderthal that died in that cave.
3. Dr. Mullikin describes the challenge of protecting the purity of Neanderthal DNA for sequencing [35.9 MB] 58 seconds One of the problems with this particular research is to also understand that you don't want to contaminate it with modern human DNA. So they had to make extra special care in handling the DNA, prior to sequencing it. But the sequencing part of it, once they were able to turn the molecules of DNA into something that they could sequence, they could look for the pieces that looked like Neanderthal DNA. That they were short fragments of DNA, that had been altered by the eons of time that they had been underground. The change in a distinctive pattern so they can know which ones are real, that are the old pieces from the ones that might be contamination. Contamination was one of the main focuses of understanding what might be contaminate and what was real Neanderthal DNA. We tried to remove as much of the contaiminate as possible from the sequence. We got it down to below 1 percent.

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Video Specifications

These standard definition videos were shot on a Sony 570 DVCAM and edited at full resolution in an Avid Media Composer. The video clips were exported as QuickTime Movies, using the QuickTime H.264 codec, with the following specifications:

  1. 1920 x 1080 pixels frame size
  2. 29.97 frames per second
  3. RGB color, compressed at millions of colors, for best compression
  4. 48 kHz, uncompressed audio, 2 channels of pan-centered mono audio

Terms of Use

These videos were developed for use by broadcast media to assist with the preparation of news stories. All government-produced video is in the public domain and copyright free. Anyone is freely able to use these clips. These video clips were created by Genome Productions, a part of the Communications and Public Liaison Branch of the National Human Genome Research Institute. As a courtesy, it is requested that the an appropriate acknowledgement be given: "Courtesy: National Human Genome Research Institute."

Last updated: March 07, 2012