The main focus of research in Estonian Biocentre is on the studies of human genetic diversity and the evolutionary factors and events that have had major impact on this. A new field - archaeogenomics - complements the studies of modern population genomics and of global and local aspects of the demographic history of mankind.
Since spring 2018, Estonian Biocentre has cleanroom facilities for research of ultrasensitive materials allowing to process and analyze biomolecules from a wide variety of materials (animal and plant remains, soil and sediment samples) and will also provide ancient DNA service. The laboratory is open to visiting researchers through collaborative projects.
The head of the Estonian Biocentre is Vice Director, Associate Professor of Population Genetics Dr. Kristiina Tambets (kristiina.tambets [ät] ut.ee).
The modern population genetics research groups aims at reconstructing the demographic history of contemporary human populations in light of past events and of genetic adaptation to the environment they live in. The group has several foci of interest, including Estonia, South Asia, Siberia, Papua New Guinea and East Africa.
Each genome sequenced or genotyped at the Institute is decomposed to obtain an estimate of its ancestry composition. The contribution of each demographic event is analysed to shed light on the recent and deep history of each sample's "enlarged family history", as well as on the effect these components may have on the overall genetic disease burden of each sampled individual.
The research group of modern population genetics is lead by Associate Professor Dr. Luca Pagani, luca.pagani [ät] ut.ee.
The Ancient DNA research group at the Institute of Genomics is an international set of researchers, post-docs and PhD students with a dedicated state-of-the-art cleanroom facility for high output of ancient DNA NGS data as well as use of IT infrastructure for large-scale bioinformatic analyses.
The research purview of the group is human and pathogen evolution with projects spanning all seven continents and from the Palaeolithic period to the present.
The laboratory has the capacity to generate aDNA from human, animal, plant and sediment sources for research questions pertaining to a number of topics including the impact of diet, disease, demography and environment on human, pathogen and animal evolution.
The lab provides low-coverage aDNA screening as a service and is open to visiting researchers. For enquiries, please email: adna.estonia [ät] gmail.com.
The research group of ancient DNA is lead by senior researcher Dr. Christiana Lyn Scheib, christiana.lyn.scheib [ät] ut.ee.
Uniparentally inherited parts of the human genomes, the mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome, allow to study sex-specific aspects of human demographic history. We use large number of high-coverage sequencies to investigate the dynamics of maternal and paternal effective population sizes, aiming to reconstruct the demographic history of north and eastern Eurasians and beyond. Currently we combine contemporary and aDNA studies, looking into several standing “archaeogenetics puzzles” of demographic history of Finnic-speaking peoples, people from Caucasus region and several smaller local ethnic groups from across the World.
The research group of mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome is lead by Professor Dr. Richard Villems, richard.villems [ät] ut.ee and by senior researcher Dr. Siiri Rootsi, siiri.rootsi [ät] ut.ee.
The research group of cellular stress studies how human and mouse cells and tissues react to various unfavorable conditions, for example, to the deficiency of nutrients (glucose or essential amino acids) or which kinds of protective mechanisms they use to reduce the deleterious effects of reactive oxygen species. These types of stressful conditions occur for example in life-threatening diseases, such as stroke, heart attack and tumors. How the cell functions in these situations thus determines not only the fate of the cell itself but potentially also the fate of the whole organism. We have been especially interested in the protein TRIB3, which we have found to serve a crucial role in the control of cellular stress responses. In our recent papers we report that TRIB3 acts as a negative feedback regulator that is important for protecting cells against oxidative stress and for the adaptation of metabolism to nutrient deficiency.
Research group of cellular stress is lead by Associate Professor Dr. Tõnis Örd, tonis.ord [ät] ut.ee.