Sequence Analysis of Bacterial DNA in the Colon of an Andean Mummy

Sequence Analysis of Bacterial DNA in the Colon of an Andean Mummy

Sequence Analysis of Bacterial DNA in the Colon of an Andean Mummy

Abstract

We have isolated DNA from 14 tissue samples from the internal organs of an Andean human mummy (10th-11th century A.D.) and have checked the persistence of the original human and bacterial templates using the following main approaches: 1) amino acid racemization test; 2) quantification of mitochondrial DNA copy number; 3) survey of bacterial DNA in the different organs; 4) sequence analysis of bacterial amplicons of different lengths. The results demonstrate that both the original human DNA and the DNA of the bacteria of the mummy gut are preserved. In particular, sequenceanalysis of two (respectively 100 and 196 bp in length) libraries of bacterial 16s ribosomal RNA gene amplicons from the mummy colon shows that while the shortest amplicons give only modest and biased indications about the bacterial taxa, the longer amplicons allow the identification several species of the genus Clostridium which are typical of the human colon. This work represents a first example of a methodological approach which is applicable, in principle, to many other natural and artificial mummies and might open the way to the study of the structure of the human microbial ecosystem from prehistory to present.

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