The 5300-year-old Helicobacter pylori genome of the Iceman
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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 5,300-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 prior to hybridization, suggesting the African population arrived in Europe within the last few thousand years.
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