The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)


Understanding re-emerging infectious diseases: contributions on tuberculosis from palaeopathology and biomolecular science

CHARLOTTE A. ROBERTS1, ABIGAIL BOUWMAN2, ROMY MULLER2, TERRY BROWN2 and SANDRA BUNNING2.

1Archaeology, Durham University, 2Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre, University of Manchester, 3Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre, University of Manchester, 4Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre, University of Manchester, 5Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre, University of Manchester

Friday 9:15-9:30, Parlors Add to calendar

Tuberculosis (TB), caused by M. tuberculosis complex (MTBC) organisms, is a re-emerging infectious disease. It is estimated to be 3 million years old, originating in Africa. First clear historical evidence dates to 2700 BC (China), the first skeletal evidence to 5800±90 BP (Italy), and in Britain to the Iron Age (400–230 BC). Key questions remain about how, when and where TB originated. M. tuberculosis has extensive genetic variation which has partly a geographical basis. The aim of this paper is to describe a current project focusing on the origin and evolution of the causative agents of TB in Britain and other parts of Europe. Using real time PCR assays of IS6110, IS1081 and rpoB targets, bone samples from 488 individuals have been analysed for M. tuberculosis complex DNA (177 European; 64 sites, and 311 British; 78 sites; 500BC-19th century AD). These analyses produced 148 positive samples for MTBC. 101 of those extracts that contained authentic M. tuberculosis complex DNA were further analysed to distinguish between members of the complex and to obtain strain data (through next generation sequencing - NGS). Using two strategies: hybridization capture directed at 262 different regions of the MTBC genome, and also at the entire genome, up to several million sequences have been identified with many samples at many sites, with up to 8% corresponding to organisms of the MTBC. The final NGS results will have implications for understanding how TB bacterial strains have evolved, and what that might mean for TB’s future.

Supported by the Natural Environmental Research Council Grant Number NE/E018564/1

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