Seven European research institutions and GATC Biotech have formed a consortium providing cutting-edge training in the scientific study of the human past. The BEAN (Bridging the European and Anatolian Neolithic) Initial Training Network has been awarded four years of funding from the European Commission through the Marie Curie Actions program. It is a new multinational and multidisciplinary Marie Curie Research initiative exploring the origins of European agriculture.
The BEAN network will provide state-of-the-art training to early-stage researchers in the allied fields of genomics, demography, computer simulations and modelling, physical anthropology, and archaeology in the context of an integrated research program investigating the genetic and cultural ancestry of modern Europeans, and the origins of settled farming life in Europe. The BEAN consortium will augment its research into European prehistory with modern technological innovation through its partnership with German biotech firm GATC Biotech, where early-stage researchers will develop next-generation genomics methods optimized for the study of ancient DNA.
The BEAN network takes a multidisciplinary and international approach, focusing on demographic questions surrounding the dissemination of the cultural, technological, and biological components of the Neolithic from western Anatolia and the Balkans to the rest of Europe. The term ‘Neolithic’ refers to a novel human lifeway centred on crop and animal domestication and the construction of permanent settlements with special-use buildings. The transition from mobile foraging to sedentary farming first occurred around 11,000 years ago in the Near East with the cultivation of several edible grasses and legumes and the domestication of cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs, and spread throughout southwest Asia, reaching Europe by 8,500 years ago.
The BEAN team will be tracking the movement of people and their domesticates from western Anatolia and south Eastern Europe throughout the European continent. The BEAN network is a transnational effort incorporating specialists from different regions and scientific disciplines: nine independent but interrelated scientific projects will explore various facets of the transition to agriculture in Europe, including the cultural artefacts associated with the arrival of agriculture, the physical and genetic characteristics of the first farmers, and the interplay of foraging and early farming communities in Europe.
According to BEAN organiser Joachim Burger of JGU Mainz, “The Marie Curie International Training Networks are an excellent way of concentrating some of the most promising European research talent on one of the crucial questions in human prehistory.” GATC Biotech’s scientific involvement within the BEAN project focuses on next generation sequencing of extremely small amounts of ancient DNA originating from archeological material and bioinformatics analysis. In the course of the project, GATC Biotech will provide the opportunity to acquire in depth knowledge in related laboratory and bioinformatics methods to one researcher. Furthermore, managing projects in an international business environment will be included. ‘’We are very pleased to contribute our leading edge competence in next-generation sequencing, sample preparation and raw data analysis in close collaboration with scientific European partners of high reputation. This will promote the education of young talented scientists.’’ states Dr. Tobias Paprotka, Head of Development.
In addition to scientific training, the eight doctoral candidates and two postdoctoral researchers of the BEAN network will have the opportunity to develop marketable business and management skills through internships offered by the network’s private and public sector Associate Partners, which include the Federal Statistical Office of Germany (Destatis), OTI Holding Company, and Springer Publishing, as well as the Austrian Archaeological Institute and the Aegean University. “It is vital that the upcoming generation of European scientists are prepared to leverage their research skills in careers outside of academia” explains BEAN researcher Mark Thomas of the University College London.
About the BEAN projectThe BEAN project (Bridging the European and Anatolian Neolithic: demography and lifestyle at the advent of civilization) is an Initial Training Network sponsored by the European Union, and coordinated by Prof. Dr Joachim Burger of JGU Mainz. In addition to JGU Mainz, the Full Partners of the network are the University of Belgrade, the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), GATC Biotech AG, the University of Geneva, the University of Istanbul, the University College London, and Trinity College Dublin.
About GATC Biotech AGGATC Biotech is Europe’s leading service provider of DNA sequencing. For over two decades the company has offered sequencing and bioinformatics solutions for individual samples, transcriptomes and regulomes, up to whole genomes. GATC has sequenced more than 5 million samples, ten thousands of bacterial, plant or other whole genomes as well as hundreds of whole human genomes for its more than 10.000 academic and industrial customers worldwide.
GATC Biotech offers true multiplatform sequencing using all leading sequencing technologies in its own labs. GATC´s acknowledged bioinformatics solutions allow high-end data analysis for its customers in pharmaceutical, diagnostic, chemical or food industries as well as in academics. As an Agilent and Illumina Certified Service Provider, GATC enables full compliance with latest state-of-the-art standards. Since 2010, GATC has been a key supplier for the International Cancer Genome Project.
GATC´s subsidiary LifeCodexx emphasizes the development of clinically validated molecular diagnostic tests and offers a risk-free alternative to common invasive examination methods such as amniocentesis.