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Proteomics and Metabolomics from Peruvian Chachapoya Culture Mummy Tissue Samples
In 1966, more than 200 mummies were found in Peru which are most likely attributed to the tribe Chachapoya. The secured samples shall be closely investigated in terms of their DNA, protein and metabolism patterns in order to study the effects of geographic and climate conditions on genetic substance and metabolism of different peoples.

Management:  Univ.-Prof. Dr. Horst Seidler
Institutions:  Dept. of Anthropology; Univ. of Vienna
Phase:  GEN-AU II
Valid:  Feb 1, 2006 to Nov 30, 2008
Budget:  100,000 €

The Chachapoya tribe, who lived in the area of today's Peru, became extinct in the middle of the 16th century probably because of diseases introduced by Spanish conquerers. In the 1990s, well-preserved mummies were found in one of their burial grounds. This project is dedicated to analysing genes, proteins and traces of metabolism of these mummies.

Archaeological gene screening. In 1996, more than 200 mummies were found in the north and south of Peru which can probably be attributed to the Chachapoya tribe. The secured samples shall now be closely investigated in terms of their DNA, protein and metabolism patterns.
The analysis of the tissue samples is of utmost interest because the compounds of the mummies come from very different climatic areas of Peru, namely from the tropical humid north and the dry and hot south. In addition, the places of discovery show marked differences in altitude, the mummies of the north of Peru were recovered at an altitude of more than 3000 metres, the ones from the south, however, at significantly lower altitude.

Influence of different living conditions on genes and metabolism. These different conditions significantly influenced the respective living conditions of the chachapoya tribes and could have had changing effects on the individual DNA, protein and metabolism patterns of the mummies. By means of mass spectroscopy analysis, biomarkers can be identified which are assosciated with certain diseases. Especially the concentration of the blood pigment haemoglobin plays an important role in measurements because it can be influenced by the geographic altitude of the settlements of the chachapoya tribes. Analysing well-preserved mummy compounds offers the unique opportunity to study the effects of geographic and climate conditions on genetic substance and metabolism of different peoples.


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