Analysis of the human genome for the first time from the ancient city of Pompeii
In AD 79, a volcanic eruption from Mount Vesuvius buried the city of Pompeii under a layer of ash. Now researchers are decoding the former Pompiani’s genome for the first time — and drawing startling conclusions about the man.
WItalian scientists first sequenced large parts of the genome of a person who died in Pompeii when Mount Vesuvius erupted nearly 2,000 years ago. They discovered that the man may have come from Sardinia and that his ancestors came to Europe via what is now Iran and Anatolia.
Also, he was most likely suffering from tuberculosis From the backbone, like the group led by Gabriel Scorano of the Tor Vergata University in Rome Writes for Scientific Reports. In the year 79 came Several violent explosions Mount Vesuvius, southeast of Naples.
During this time, ash and other volcanic material covered the Roman cities of Herculaneum, Stabiae, Oplontes, and Pompeii. In Pompeii, about 2,000 people who had not yet fled the city died due to lava flows at several 100 degrees Celsius – a mixture of hot ash, gases, and pieces of rock.
Usually, the high heat destroys the skeletons and thus also the genetic material, the DNA. “On the other hand, it is also possible that the volcanic plastic material covering the remains may protect it from environmental factors such as atmospheric oxygen, which degrades DNA,” the researchers wrote.
DNA reveals its origin
In the stony bone of a dead man – called individual A – Scorano and his colleagues found well-preserved DNA. The petrous bone is part of the skull and is one of the toughest bones in the human body. DNA was enough to reconstruct 41 percent of the genome of a 35- to 40-year-old man.
The mitochondrial genome, the cellular power plants, inherited from the maternal line, and the Y chromosome inherited from the paternal side showed some characteristics commonly found in Sardinian populations.
Comparisons of the reconstructed genomes with genomes in different genetic databases revealed that the man carried 30.5% of the genes from the Iranian Neolithic and 51.6% of the genes from the Anatolian Neolithic.
Also, 4.4 percent of Western Hunters and 13.5 percent of the Yamnaya cultureWhich spread from the area north of the Black Sea to the farthest corner of Europe in the Bronze Age. The research team was not limited to genetic analyzes, but also examined the anatomical characteristics of the Pompeian.
Scientists have discovered changes in two lumbar vertebrae that indicate tuberculosis in the spine. Then they examined the genomes for the pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Although they found very little genetic material to detect exactly this species, it was enough for the genus Mycobacterium.
The group concluded that there was a high probability that the man had tuberculosis of the spine. “Genome-wide analyzes indicate that the Pompeian individual A is genetically close to extant Mediterranean peoples, particularly Central Italians and Sardinians,” the researchers wrote.
They also examined individual B, a woman in her fifties who was found next to the man. However, in her case, the production of genetic material was too low for further analysis.
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