Lipid biomarkers can be preserved over long geological timescales. They are widely used as taxonomic markers of past and present microbial communities and as parts of organic paleoclimate proxies. However, questions remain regarding the precise biological sources and evolution of the acquisition of specific lipids, and why and how they are synthesized. In the last two decades, the use of DNA-based approaches has proven to be key in unraveling some of these questions. As methodological approaches improve, (paleo) genomics increasingly supports lipid biomarker research. Here, we provide an overview of the usefulness of DNA-based approaches over the years, including ancient sedimentary DNA research and phylogenomics, and a perspective on the upcoming challenges of this field.

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