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Molecular confirmation of Schistosoma and family relationship in two ancient Egyptian mummies

Matheson, CD; David, R; Spigelman, M; Donoghue, HD; (2014) Molecular confirmation of Schistosoma and family relationship in two ancient Egyptian mummies. In: Gill-Frerking, H and Rosendahl, W and Zink, AR and Alterauge, A, (eds.) Yearbook of Mummy Studies Volume 2. (39 - 47). Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil: Munich, Germany. Green open access

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Abstract

Egg morphology and immunocytochemistry have identified schistosomiasis in ancient Egypt. Our study aimedbto detect and characterize schistosomal DNA in mummified human tissue. Liver samples from the mummy Nekht-Ankh (c. 3900 BP) and intestinal samples from Khnum-Nakht, possibly his brother, were analyzed using PCR primers suitable for fragmented ancient DNA, specific for either Schistosoma mansoni or Schistosoma haematobium. Mitochondrial primers examined any relationship between the supposed brothers. Two independent laboratories confirmed S. mansoni DNA from the Nekht-Ankh liver. One laboratory detected S. haematobium DNA in both the Nekht-Ankh liver and intestinal samples from Khnum-Nakht in repeat experiments. We believe this is the first verified report of S. mansoni in ancient Egypt. Although no S. haematobium DNA sequence was obtained, the results support earlier histological findings of S. haematobium in ancient Egyptian mummies. These findings demonstrate that both S. mansoni and S. haematobium were present in Central Egypt during the Middle Kingdom, around 3900 years ago. From the mitochondrial DNA analysis it appears that these two individuals were not maternally related, which is consistent with the morphology of the skulls. The lack of genetic relatedness between these supposed brothers throws light upon the habit of adoption in this society.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Molecular confirmation of Schistosoma and family relationship in two ancient Egyptian mummies
ISBN-13: 978-3-89937-163-5
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://www.pfeil-verlag.de/
Language: English
Keywords: Ancient DNA, Schistosoma mansoni, Schistosoma haematobium
UCL classification: UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1427916
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