Sanne Boessenkool

Image of Sanne Boessenkool
Norwegian version of this page
Phone +47 22851805
Room 3427
Visiting address Blindernveien 31 0371 Oslo
Postal address Postboks 1066 Blindern 0316 Oslo
Other affiliations Institutt for pedagogikk (Student)

Research interests

My research interests are focused on the evolutionary and ecological processes that drive population and species distributions over spatial and temporal scales. I’m particularly interested in the effects of anthropogenically-induced change, but also investigate biological responses to climate change. I specialise in the use of ancient DNA methods and my research covers an extensive temporal range from a few decades ago, up to the Holocene and Pleistocene. I work with a variety of taxa, including both animals and plants, and the genomic tools I employ in my studies range from multi-species metabarcoding markers to whole genome sequence data from single specimens. I have worked on a large diversity of ancient material – museum skins, feathers, seeds, bones, permafrost and lake sediments – and have experience with all parts of the laboratory methodology as well as the bioinformatic analyses of data generated using high-throughput sequencing technology. I have a broad interest, and the nature of my work and the questions I pursue cover a wide range of scientific fields, ranging from evolutionary biology, conservation biology to archaeology. I thoroughly enjoy working in a highly multidisciplinary research environment.

In the Archaeogenomics group at CEES we have several ongoing projects - check out the group page for more information!


I coordinate the course BIOS3050 - Arbeidspraksis i biovitenskap and co-coordinate BIOS2000 - Animal Behaviour. I further lecture in BIOS3100 - Evolution.

As Head of education (one of two) at the Department of Biosciences I contribute to the faculty's and the department's educational strategy, and lead the department's educational activities.  


Tags: Genomics, Nordic, Ancient DNA, Evolutionary biology, DNA, Population genetics

Selected publications

Ter Schure ATM, Bajard M,  Loftsgarden K, Høeg HI, Ballo E, Bakke J, Støren EWN, Iversen H, Kool A, Brysting AK, Krüger K & Boessenkool S (2021) Anthropogenic and environmental drivers of vegetation change in southeastern Norway during the Holocene. Quaternary Science Reviews 270: 107175.

Kersten O, Star B, Leigh DM, Anker-Nilssen T, Strøm H, Danielsen J, Descamps S, Erikstad KE, Fitzsimmons MG, Fort J, Hansen ES, Harris MP, Irestedt M, Kleven O, Mallory ML, Jackobsen KS & Boessenkool S (2021) Complex population structure of the Atlantic puffin revealed by whole genome analyses. Communications Biology 4: 922.

Polling M, ter Schure ATM, van Geel B, van Bokhoven T, Boessenkool S, MacKay G, Langeveld BW, Ariza M, van der Plicht H, Protopopov AV, Tikhonov A, de Boer H, & Gravendeel B (2021) Multiproxy analysis of permafrost preserved faeces provides an unprecedented insight into the diets and habitats of extinct and extant megafauna. Quaternary Science Reviews 267: 107084.

Chua PYS, Lammers Y, Menoni E, Ekrem T, Bohmann K, Boessenkool S & Alsos IG (2021) Molecular dietary analyses of western capercaillies (Tetrao urogallus) reveal a diverse diet. Environmental DNA. Early view.

Chua PYS, Crampton-Platt A, Lammers Y, Alsos IG, Boessenkool S & Bohmann K (2021) Metagenomics: A viable tool for reconstructing diet. Molecular Ecology Resources. Early view.

Trucchi E, Benazzo A, Lari M, Iob A, Vai S, Nanni L, Bellucci E, Bitocchi E, Xu C, Jackson AS, Lema V, Babot P, Oliszewski N, Gil A, Neme G, Michieli C, De Lorenzi M, Calcagnile L, Caramelli D, Star B, de Boer H, Boessenkool S*, Papa R*, Bertorelle* G. (2021) Ancient genomes reveal early Andean farmers selected common beans while preserving diversity. Nature Plants. *Shared senior authors.

Ferrari G, Cuevas A, Gondek-Wyrozemska AT, Ballantyne R, Kersten O, Pálsdóttir A, van der Jagt I, Hufthammer A, Ystgaard I, Wickler S, Bigelow GF, Harland J, Nicholson R, Orton D, Clavel B, Boessenkool S & Barrett JH & Star B. The preservation ancient DNA in archaeological fish bone. Journal of Archaeological Science 126: 105317.

Orr R, Sannum M, Boessenkool S, Di Martino E, Gordon D, Mello H, Obst M, Ramsfjell M, Smith A & Liow LH (2020) Molecular phylogeny of historical micro-invertebrate specimens using de novo sequence assembly. Ecology and Evolution 11(1): 309-320.

Ter Schure ATM, Pillai AAS, Thorbek L, Bhavani Shankar M, Puri R, Ravikanth G, de Boer HJ & Boessenkool S (2020) Herbivore dietary nice overlap in an Indian wildlife sanctuary measured by eDNA metabarcoding. Environmental DNA 3(3): 681-696.

Barett JH, Boessenkool S, Kneale CJ, O’Connell TC & Star B (2020) Ecological globalisation, serial depletion and the medieval trade of walrus rostra. Quaternary Science Reviews 229: 106122.

Pálsdóttir AH, Bläuer A, Rannamäe E, Boessenkool S, Hallsson JH. 2019. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Open Science 285: 20180978.

Fages A, Hanghøj K, Khan N, …. Boessenkool S, ……Outram, AK, Librado P & Orlando . (2019) Tracking five millennia of horse management with extensive ancient genome time series. Cell 177: 1-17.

Nistelberger HM, Pálsdóttir AH, Star B, Leifsson R, Gondek AT, Orlando L, Barrett JH, Hallsson JH, Boessenkool S. 2019. Sexing Viking Age horses from burial and non-burial sites in Iceland using ancient DNA. Journal of Archaeological Science 101, 115-122.

Star B., Barrett J.H, Gondek A.T., Boessenkool S. 2018. Ancient DNA reveals the chronology of walrus ivory trade from Norse Greenland. bioRxiv doi:

Gondek AT, Boessenkool S & Star B (2018) A stainless-steel mortar, pestle and sleeve design for the efficient fragmentation of ancient bone. Preprint available on bioRxiv, doi:

Star B, Boessenkool S, Gondek AT, Nikulina EA, Hufthammer AK, Pampoulie C, Knutsen H, Andre C, Nistelberger HM, Dierking J, Petereit C, Heinrich D, Jakobsen KS, Stenseth NC, Jentoft S, Barret JH (2017) Ancient DNA revels the Arctic origin of Viking age cod from Haithabu, Germany. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114: 9152-9157.

Boessenkool S, Hanghøj K, Nistelberger HM, Sarkissian CD, Gondek A, Orlando L, Barrett JH & Star B (2017) Combining bleach and mild pre-digestion improves ancient DNA recovery from bones. Molecular Ecology Resources 17: 742-751.

Nistelberger H, Smith O, Wales N, Star B & Boessenkool S (2016) The efficacy of high-throughput sequencing and target enrichment on charred archaeobotanical remains. Scientific Reports 6: 37347.

Gebremedhin B, Flagstad Ø, Bekele A, Chala D, Bakkestuen V, Boessenkool S, Popp M, Gussarova G, Schrøder- Nielsen A, Nemomissa S, Brochmann C, Stenseth NC & Epp LS. (2016) DNA metabarcoding suggests that the endangered Walia ibex is affected by diet competition with domestic goats. PLoSOne 11(7): e0159133.

Mazarella AB, Boessenkool S, Østbye K, Vøllestad LA & Trucchi E (2016) Genomic signatures of the plateless phenotype in the threespine stickleback. Ecology and Evolution 6: 3161-3173.

Paus A, Boessenkool S, Brochmann C. Epp LS, Fabel D, Haflidason H & Linge H (2015) Lake Store Finnsjøen - a key for understanding Late-Glacial/early Holocene vegetation and ice sheet dynamics in the Scandes mountains. Quaternary Science Reviews 121: 36-51.

Paus A, Boessenkool S, Brochmann C. Epp LS, Fabel D, Haflidason H & Linge H (2015) Lake Store Finnsjøen - a key for understanding Late-Glacial/early Holocene vegetation and ice sheet dynamics in the Scandes mountains. Quaternary Science Reviews 121: 36-51.

Epp LS, Gussarova G, Boessenkool S, Olsen J, Haile J, Schrøder-Nielsen A, Ludikova A, Hassel K, Stenøien HK, Funder SV, Willerslev E, Kjær K & Brochmann C (2015) Lake sediment multi-taxon DNA from North Greenland records early post-glacial appearance of vascular plants and accurately tracks environmental changes. Quaternary Science Reviews 117: 152-163.

Rawlence NJ, Perry GLW, Smith IWG, Scofiel RP, Tennyson AJD, Matisoo-Smith EA, Boessenkool S, Austin JA & Waters JM (2015) Radiocarbon-dating and ancient DNA reveal rapid replacement of extinct prehistoric penguins. Quaternary Science Reviews 112: 59-65.

Boessenkool S, McGlynn G, Epp LS, Taylor D, Pimentel M, Gizaw A, Nemomissa S, Brochmann C & Popp M (2014) Use of ancient sedimentary DNA as a novel conservation tool for high-altitude tropical biodiversity. Conservation Biology 28: 446-455.

Willerslev E, Davison J, Moora M, Zobel M, Coissac E, Edwards ME, Lorenzen ED, Vestergård M, Gussarova G, Haile J, Craine J, Gielly L, Boessenkool S, Epp LS, Pearman PB, Cheddadi R, Murray D, Bråthen KA, Yoccoz N, Binney H, Cruaud C, Wincker P, Goslar T, Alsos IG, Bellemain E, Brysting AK, Elven R, Sønstebø JH, Murton J, Sher A, Rasmussen M, Rønn R, Mourier T, Cooper A, Austin J, Möller P, Froese D, Zazula G, Pompanon F, Rioux D, Niderkorn V, Tikhonov A, Savvinov G, Roberts RG, MacPhee RDE, Gilbert MTP, Kjær KH, Orlando L, Brochmann C & Taberlet P (2014) Fifty thousand years of Arctic vegetation and megafaunal diet. Nature 506: 47-51.

Bellemain E, Davey ML, Kauserud H, Epp LS, Boessenkool S, Coissac E, Geml J, Edwards M, Willerslev E, Gussarova G, Taberlet P & Brochmann C (2013) Fungal paleodiversity revealed using high-throughput metabarcoding of ancient DNA from arctic permafrost. Environmental Microbiology and Environmental Microbiology Reports 15: 1176-1189.

Boessenkool S*, Epp LS*, Haile J, Bellemain E, Coissac E, Willerslev E & Brochmann C (2012) Blocking human contaminant DNA during PCR allows amplification of rare mammal species in sedimentary ancient DNA. Molecular Ecology 21: 1806-1815. *Contributed equally.

Epp LS*, Boessenkool S*, Bellemain EP, Haile J, Esposito A, Riaz T, Erse C, Gusarov V, Edwards ME, Johnsen A, Stenøien HK, Hassel K, Kauserud H, Yoccoz NG, Bråthen KA, Willerslev E, Taberlet P, Coissac E & Brochmann C (2012) New environmental metabarcodes for analysing soil DNA: potential for studying past and present ecosystems. Molecular Ecology 21: 1821-1833. *Contributed equally.

Parducci L, Jørgensen T, Tollesrufd MM, Elverland E, Alm T, Fontana S, Bennett KD, Haile J, Matetovici I, Suyama Y, Edwards M, Andersen K, Rasmussen R, Boessenkool S, Coissac E, Brochmann C, Taberlet P, Houmark-Nielsen M, Larsen NK, Orlando L, Gilbert, MTP, Kjær K, Alsos IG & Willerslev E (2012) Glacial survival of boreal trees in Northern Scandinavia . Science 335: 1083-1086.

Jørgensen T, Haile J, Möller P, Andreev A, Boessenkool S, Rassmussen M, Kienast F, Coissac E, Taberlet P, Brochmann C, Bigelow NH, Andersen K, Orlando L, Gilbert MTP & Willerslev E (2012) A comparative study of ancient sedimentary DNA, pollen and macrofossils from permafrost sediments of northern Siberia reveals long-term vegetational stability. Molecular Ecology 21: 1989-2003.

Jørgensen T, Kjær KH, Haile J, Rasmussen M, Boessenkool S, Andersen K, Coissac E, Taberlet P, Brochmann C, Orlando L, Gilbert MTP & Willerslev E (2012) Islands in the ice: detecting past vegetation on Greenlandic Nunataks using historical records and sedimentary ancient DNA meta-barcoding. Molecular Ecology 21: 1980-1988.

Boessenkool S, Star B, Scofield RP, Seddon PJ & Waters JM (2010) Lost in translation or deliberate falsification? Genetic analyses reveal erroneous museum data for historic penguin specimens. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 277: 1057-1064.

Boessenkool S, Star B, Seddon PJ & Waters JM (2010) Temporal genetic analyses indicate small effective population size of the endangered yellow-eyed penguin. Conservation Genetics 11: 539-546.

Lopes J.S. & Boessenkool S (2010) The use of approximate Bayesian statistics in conservation genetics and its application in a case study on yellow-eyed penguins. Conservation Genetics 11: 421-433.

Boessenkool S, Star B, Waters JM & Seddon PJ (2009) Multilocus assignment analyses reveal multiple units and rare migration events in the recently expanded yellow-eyed penguin (Megadyptes antipodes). Molecular Ecology 18: 2390-2400.

Boessenkool S, Austin JJ, Worthy TH, Scofield RP, Cooper A, Seddon PJ & Waters JM (2009) Relict or colonizer? Extinction and range expansion of penguins in southern New Zealand. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 276: 815-821.

Boessenkool S, King TM, Seddon PJ & Waters JM (2008) Isolation and characterization of microsatellite loci from the yellow-eyed penguin (Megadyptes antipodes). Molecular Ecology Resources 8: 1043-4045.

Taylor SS, Boessenkool S & Jamieson IG (2008) Genetic monogamy in two long-lived New Zealand passerines. Journal of Avian Biology 39: 579-583.

Keeney DB, Boessenkool S, King TM, Leung TLF & Poulin R (2008) Effects of interspecific competition on asexual proliferation and clonal genetic diversity in larval trematode infections of snails. Parasitology 135: 741-747.

Boessenkool S, Taylor SS, Tepolt CK, Komdeur J & Jamieson IG (2007) Large mainland populations of South Island Robins retain greater genetic diversity than offshore island refuges. Conservation Genetics 8: 705-714.


Popular science publications

Boessenkool S (2013) Waitaha penguin: dynamic history revealed by DNA. In: Penguins: Their world, their ways. Eds De Roy, T, Jones, M & Cornthwaite, J. CSIRO Publishing. Pp 164-165.

Boessenkool S, Epp LS & Bellemain E (2011) Barcoding ancient DNA preserved in Arctic permafrost. META (magazine of the Norwegian metacentre for computational science) 1: 10-13.


Published Dec. 10, 2012 2:55 PM - Last modified Sep. 20, 2022 10:59 PM

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