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Molecular palaeopathology of human infectious disease

Donoghue, HD; (2008) Molecular palaeopathology of human infectious disease. In: Pinhasi, R and Mays, S, (eds.) Advances in human palaeopathology. (147 - 176). John Wiley & Sons Ltd: Chichester, UK.

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Abstract

Direct molecular evidence of the presence of infectious microbes in human archaeological material has proved a fruitful but very controversial field of study. The great majority of published findings are based upon the direct detection of ancient DNA of pathogenic microorganisms, and even now there are those who doubt the authenticity of data. A good understanding of the natural history of the infectious agent and of its interaction with the human host is necessary. Practical problems arise unless the likely site in the body of any biomolecular traces of the microbe are known, and the relationship to the stage of the disease. This is entirely separate from the vexed question of the preservation of microbial biomolecules in comparison with those of their human host. General principles for undertaking this biomolecular work are described and likely developments indicated. The strategies adopted by particular groups of infectious microbes are outlined, and the accumulated body of knowledge in relation to specific diseases is updated or reviewed. Finally, the interaction with the expanding field of microbial genomics is mentioned and the co-evolution of infectious agents and their human hosts is considered.

Type:Book chapter
Title:Molecular palaeopathology of human infectious disease
ISBN-13:978-0-470-03602-0
Additional information:http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0470036028.html
Keywords:microbial genomics; leprosy; tuberculosis; plague; palaeomicrobiology; palaeoparasitology
UCL classification:UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Biosciences (Division of)

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