Biologists have analyzed gallstones from the mummy of a 16th-century Italian nobleman

(ORDO NEWS) — Biologists have reconstructed the genome of an ancient E. coli from mummified human remains. An article about this was published in Communications Biology.

The mummified remains of Giovani d’Avalos were discovered in the Abbey of San Domenico Maggiore in Naples in 1983, along with those of other Italian Renaissance nobles.

It is believed that a Neapolitan nobleman who died in 1586 at the age of 48 suffered from chronic inflammation of the gallbladder due to stone formation. These stones were removed, and it turned out that inside them there are remains of E. coli (Escherichia coli).

Researchers at McMaster University in Canada have used them to reconstruct the ancient bacterial genome. This will allow us to trace exactly how E. coli evolved over the past 400 years, which is important for understanding evolutionary patterns in general. In particular, scientists are interested in when E. Coli acquired resistance to antibiotics.

During the study, it was especially difficult to keep the culture of bacteria from stones isolated so that they would not mix with modern microorganisms.

Modern E. coli is commonly found in the intestines of healthy humans and animals. Although most strains are harmless, some cause serious, sometimes fatal outbreaks of food poisoning and infectious diseases.

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