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Increasing sustainability in palaeoproteomics by optimizing digestion times for large-scale archaeological bone analyses

Le Meillour, Louise, Sinet-Mathiot, Virginie, Ásmundsdóttir, Ragnheiður Diljá, Hansen, Jakob, Mylopotamitaki, Dorothea, Troché, Gaudry, Xia, Huan, Herrera Bethencourt, Jorsua, Ruebens, Karen, Smith, Geoff M., and others. (2024) Increasing sustainability in palaeoproteomics by optimizing digestion times for large-scale archaeological bone analyses. iScience, 27 (4). Article Number 109432. ISSN 2589-0042. (doi:10.1016/j.isci.2024.109432) (KAR id:105561)


Palaeoproteomic analysis of skeletal proteomes is used to provide taxonomic identifications for an increasing number of archaeological specimens. The success rate depends on a range of taphonomic factors and differences in the extraction protocols employed. By analyzing 12 archaeological bone specimens from two archaeological sites, we demonstrate that reducing digestion duration from 18 to 3 hours has no measurable impact on the obtained taxonomic identifications. Peptide marker recovery, COL1 sequence coverage, or proteome complexity are also not significantly impacted. Although we observe minor differences in sequence coverage and glutamine deamidation, these are not consistent across our dataset. A 6-fold reduction in digestion time reduces electricity consumption, and therefore CO2 emission intensities. We furthermore demonstrate that working in 96-well plates further reduces electricity consumption by 60%, in comparison to individual microtubes. Reducing digestion time therefore has no impact on the taxonomic identifications, while reducing the environmental impact of palaeoproteomic projects.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/j.isci.2024.109432
Uncontrolled keywords: Archaeology, Proteomics
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Funders: Villum Fonden (
Fyssen Foundation (
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Depositing User: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2024 14:26 UTC
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2024 10:24 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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