The first Pompeii genome was sequenced and he suffered from tuberculosis

Two people found in the “House of craftsmen” (room 9) in Pompeii. Image from the book “Notizie degli Scavi di Antichita”, 1934 edition, page 286, Figure 10

Scientists have first reported the sequencing results of the human genome of a deceased person in Pompeii, Italy, after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Until then, the researchers had only sequenced short fragments of mitochondrial DNA from Pompeii man and animal remains. The study was published in Scientific Reports on May 26.

Gabriele Scorrano of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and Serena Viva of the University of Salento in Italy and colleagues analyzed the remains of two individuals found at the “House of Craftsmen” in Pompeii and extracted their DNA. Judging by the shape, construction and length of these bones, one group of wreckage belonged to a man aged 35 to 40 at the time of death, and the other group belonged to a woman over the age of 50.

Although the authors were able to extract and sequence the ancient DNA of two individuals, they could only obtain the complete genome of the male wreck because of the gaps in the sequence of the female wreckage.

The authors compared the DNA of this male individual with those of 1,030 other ancient and 471 modern Western Eurasian individuals and found that his DNA bore the greatest similarity to that of modern Central Italians and other individuals living in Italy during the Roman Empire. However, analysis of the man’s mitochondrial and Y chromosome DNA also found gene groups that were common in Sardinian individuals, but not in other individuals who lived in Italy during the Roman Empire. This suggests that the entire Italian peninsula may have had a high genetic diversity during this period.

Further analysis of the male individual’s bones and DNA revealed damage to one of the vertebrae, as well as DNA sequences commonly found in the genus Mycobacterium. The genus Mycobacterium includes Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which causes tuberculosis, indicating that the individual may have tuberculosis before death.

The authors speculate that the successful recovery of ancient DNA from the remains of the male individual may be due to the fact that the pyroclastic debris released during the eruption provided protection from environmental factors that would degrade dna (such as atmospheric oxygen). The authors say the findings demonstrate the possibility of recovering ancient DNA from the remains of the Pompeii people and offer deeper insights into the genetic history and life of this population. (Source: China Science Daily Feng Lifei)

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