Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Human History have uncovered the mystery of tuberculosis. According to new data, the most dangerous strain of bacteria for humans, which infect an estimated one third of the world’s population, originated in the Neolithic. This is reported in an article published in the journal Genome Biology.
Researchers analyzed petrification within the well-preserved lung tissue of 17th century Bishop Peder Winstrup – scars surrounded by a calcium salt capsule and indicative of tuberculosis. They managed to isolate the DNA of Koch’s bacillus Mycobacterium tuberculosis and reconstruct the genome. This allowed the year of the bishop’s death to be used as a reference point for determining the time of origin of the pathogen.
In 2014, a team of scientists from the University of Tubingen and Arizona State University reconstructed three ancient tuberculosis genomes from pre-Columbian South America. Preliminary research results indicated that tuberculosis originated within the last 6,000 years. However, until now, specialists did not have at their disposal the younger strains of tuberculosis that infect modern people. Using the method of molecular dating of the genome of the bacterium isolated from Peder Winstrup, scientists confirmed the relatively young age Mycobacterium tuberculosis…
The Neolithic is the later period of the Stone Age, which is characterized by the transition of mankind to a sedentary lifestyle and the emergence of agriculture. It began about 12 thousand years ago and ended about 6500 years ago, although in some regions of the planet it lasted longer.
Tuberculosis is one of the most widespread diseases in the world. With its open form, mycobacteria are found in the patient’s secretions, while the person becomes infectious. Some scientists believe that about a third of the world’s population is infected with tuberculosis pathogens. In 2017, 10 million people were infected with tuberculosis, 1.6 million died from it.