Rickettsia felis DNA recovered from a child who lived in southern Africa 2000 years ago.

Rifkin RF, Vikram S, Alcorta J, Ramond JB, Cowan DA, Jakobsson M, Schlebusch CM, Lombard M

Commun Biol 6 (1) 240 [2023-03-03; online 2023-03-03]

The Stone Age record of South Africa provides some of the earliest evidence for the biological and cultural origins of Homo sapiens. While there is extensive genomic evidence for the selection of polymorphisms in response to pathogen-pressure in sub-Saharan Africa, e.g., the sickle cell trait which provides protection against malaria, there is inadequate direct human genomic evidence for ancient human-pathogen infection in the region. Here, we analysed shotgun metagenome libraries derived from the sequencing of a Later Stone Age hunter-gatherer child who lived near Ballito Bay, South Africa, c. 2000 years ago. This resulted in the identification of ancient DNA sequence reads homologous to Rickettsia felis, the causative agent of typhus-like flea-borne rickettsioses, and the reconstruction of an ancient R. felis genome.

NGI Short read [Service]

NGI Uppsala (SNP&SEQ Technology Platform) [Service]

National Genomics Infrastructure [Service]

PubMed 36869137

DOI 10.1038/s42003-023-04582-y

Crossref 10.1038/s42003-023-04582-y

pmc: PMC9984395
pii: 10.1038/s42003-023-04582-y

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