Format

Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 1999 Jan 29;354(1379):111-9.

How microbial ancient DNA, found in association with human remains, can be interpreted.

Author information

  • 1Dipartimento di Biologia Molecolare, Cellulare e Animale, Universit√† di Camerino, Italy. rollo@cambio.unicam.it

Abstract

The analysis of the DNA of ancient micro-organisms in archaeological and palaeontological human remains can contribute to the understanding of issues as different as the spreading of a new disease, a mummification process or the effect of diets on historical human populations. The quest for this type of DNA, however, can represent a particularly demanding task. This is mainly due to the abundance and diffusion of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, algae and protozoans in the most diverse environments of the present-day biosphere and the resulting difficulty in distinguishing between ancient and modern DNA. Nevertheless, at least under some special circumstances, by using rigorous protocols, which include an archaeometric survey of the specimens and evaluation of the palaeoecological consistency of the results of DNA sequence analysis, glimpses of the composition of the original microbial flora (e.g. colonic flora) can be caught in ancient human remains. Potentials and pitfalls of this research field are illustrated by the results of research works performed on prehistoric, pre-Columbian and Renaissance human mummies.

PMID:
10091251
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1692447
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk