DNA from 5,300-year-old mummy’s gut reveals presence of strain of inflammation-inducing H. pylori
© EURAC, Marion Lafogler
Ötzi the Iceman had a stomach bug.
The 5,300-year-old mummy holds DNA evidence of Helicobacter pylori, a common stomach-dwelling bacteria that can cause ulcers and other ailments, researchers report in the Jan. 8 Science.
The new work could rewrite the timeline of H. pylori evolution, and possibly even offer some insight into human migration — though not everyone is convinced.
Regardless, it’s the first time anyone has stitched together the pieces of ancient H. pylori DNA, says Daniel Falush, a statistical geneticist at Swansea University in Wales who was not involved in the study. “It’s a technical achievement,” he says. Given the age of the starting material, “I’m surprised it was possible at all.”
In 1991, scientists discovered the Iceman lodged in a waist-deep block of ice in a glacier between