Science 8 January 2016:
Vol. 351 no. 6269 pp. 162-165
The 5300-year-old Helicobacter pylori genome of the Iceman
Frank Maixner1,*,†, Ben Krause-Kyora2,†, Dmitrij Turaev3,†, Alexander Herbig4,5, et al.
The stomach bacterium Helicobacter pylori is one of the most prevalent human pathogens. It has dispersed globally with its human host, resulting in a distinct phylogeographic pattern that can be used to reconstruct both recent and ancient human migrations. The extant European population of H. pylori is known to be a hybrid between Asian and African bacteria, but there exist different hypotheses about when and where the hybridization took place, reflecting the complex demographic history of Europeans. Here, we present a 5300-year-old H. pylori genome from a European Copper Age glacier mummy. The “Iceman” H. pylori is a nearly pure representative of the bacterial population of Asian origin that existed in Europe before hybridization, suggesting that the African population arrived in Europe within the past few thousand years.