Saturday, January 9, 2016

Ötzi the Iceman Provides Clues to Ulcer Evolution

From Dienekes' Blog: Helicobacter pylori in the Iceman
Science 8 January 2016: Vol. 351 no. 6269 pp. 162-165

The 5300-year-old Helicobacter pylori genome of the Iceman
Frank Maixner1,*,†, Ben Krause-Kyora2,†, Dmitrij Turaev3,†, Alexander Herbig4,5, et al.

The stomach bacterium Helicobacter pylori is one of the most prevalent human pathogens. It has dispersed globally with its human host, resulting in a distinct phylogeographic pattern that can be used to reconstruct both recent and ancient human migrations. The extant European population of H. pylori is known to be a hybrid between Asian and African bacteria, but there exist different hypotheses about when and where the hybridization took place, reflecting the complex demographic history of Europeans. Here, we present a 5300-year-old H. pylori genome from a European Copper Age glacier mummy. The “Iceman” H. pylori is a nearly pure representative of the bacterial population of Asian origin that existed in Europe before hybridization, suggesting that the African population arrived in Europe within the past few thousand years.
H. pylori is the bacterium which surprised and shocked medical people when it turned out to be the cause of the majority of ulcers, overturning previous dogma that diet was largely responsible, and opening a relatively simple treatment through antibiotics.

Ötzi the Iceman is the oldest known mummy found after a glacial melt in the Italian Alps from about 5,300 years ago. His excellent preservation, and (relative) wealth of possessions have provided enormous insight into the state of Europe at the time, as well as the climate.

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