Ancient DNA from latrines in Northern Europe and the Middle East (500 BC-1700 AD) reveals past parasites and diet

Martin Jensen Søe, Peter Nejsum, Frederik Valeur Seersholm, Brian Lund Fredensborg, Ruben Habraken, Kirstine Haase, Mette Marie Hald, Rikke Simonsen, Flemming Højlund, Louise Blanke, Inga Merkyte, Eske Willerslev, Christian Moliin Outzen Kapel

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Abstract

High-resolution insight into parasitic infections and diet of past populations in Northern Europe and the Middle East (500 BC- 1700 AD) was obtained by pre-concentration of parasite eggs from ancient latrines and deposits followed by shotgun sequencing of DNA. Complementary profiling of parasite, vertebrate and plant DNA proved highly informative in the study of ancient health, human-animal interactions as well as animal and plant dietary components. Most prominent were finding of soil-borne parasites transmitted directly between humans, but also meat-borne parasites that require consumption of raw or undercooked fish and pork. The detection of parasites for which sheep, horse, dog, pig, and rodents serves as definitive hosts are clear markers of domestic and synanthropic animals living in closer proximity of the respective sites. Finally, the reconstruction of full mitochondrial parasite genomes from whipworm (Ascaris lumbricoides) and roundworm species (Trichuris trichiura and Trichuris muris) and estimates of haplotype frequencies elucidates the genetic diversity and provides insights into epidemiology and parasite biology.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0195481
JournalP L o S One
Volume13
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
ISSN1932-6203
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2018

Cite this

Søe, M. J., Nejsum, P., Seersholm, F. V., Fredensborg, B. L., Habraken, R., Haase, K., Hald, M. M., Simonsen, R., Højlund, F., Blanke, L., Merkyte, I., Willerslev, E., & Kapel, C. M. O. (2018). Ancient DNA from latrines in Northern Europe and the Middle East (500 BC-1700 AD) reveals past parasites and diet. P L o S One, 13(4), 1-17. [e0195481]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0195481, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0195481