Confirmation of the presence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex-specific DNA in three archaeological specimens

Authors

  • Mark Spigelman,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Medical Microbiology, University College London, London, UK
    2. Kuvin Centre for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, The Hebrew University, Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel
    • Department of Medical Microbiology, University College London, 46 Cleveland Street, London W1T 4JF, UK.
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  • Carney Matheson,

    1. Kuvin Centre for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, The Hebrew University, Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel
    2. Paleo-DNA laboratory, Faculty of Science and Environmental Studies, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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  • Galit Lev,

    1. Kuvin Centre for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, The Hebrew University, Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel
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  • Charles Greenblatt,

    1. Kuvin Centre for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, The Hebrew University, Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel
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  • Helen D. Donoghue

    1. Department of Medical Microbiology, University College London, London, UK
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Abstract

This journal published the first reported identification of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTB) DNA in ancient human remains but concerns were raised about the article two years after publication. These were based on methodology which, in the field of ancient DNA, was still developing. Here we present a re-examination of the 1993 research conducted on three specimens which exhibited palaeopathologies indicative of tuberculosis. The specimens were: an ulna from pre-European-contact Borneo, a spine from Byzantine Turkey, and a lumbar-sacral spine from 17th century Scotland. There was insufficient material to permit re-examination of all of the original samples. The earlier results were confirmed in two independent laboratories using different methodologies. MTB DNA complex-specific DNA amplicons were obtained, and sequenced in both laboratories, in a re-analysis of samples which supported the earlier findings. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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