20:18 11 January 2017
An 800-year-old skeleton buried in a stone-lined grave on the outskirts of Troy has allowed researchers to reconstruct ancient bacteria.
Researchers found two calcified nodules just below the ribs of the 30-year-old woman who lived in a hardscrabble farming community in once one of the fabled cities of the ancient world. Experts found mineralised ‘ghost cells’ that closely resembled bacteria from the genus Staphylococcus.
Caitlin Pepperell, a University of Wisconsin-Madison expert on the evolution of pathogens and a professor of medicine and medical microbiology, said: 'The preliminary thought was that these were tubercles arising from tuberculosis,'
'There was something really interesting about the way this material was preserved,'
'The quality of the (genetic) data is unparalleled.'
McMaster University's Hendrik Poinar, an expert in ancient DNA , added: 'Amazingly, these samples yielded enough DNA to fully reconstruct the genomes of two species of bacteria, Staphylococcus saprophyticus and Gardnerella vaginalis, which infected the woman and likely led to her death,'
The two calcified nodules also give new clues into life in Troy.
Henrike Kiesewetter, an archaeologist affiliated with Project Troia at Tüebingen University, said: 'People were struggling with physical strains and infectious diseases and only a few lived beyond the age of 50,'
'Many newborns did not survive infancy and almost all skeletons of children show signs of malnutrition and infection.'
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