Research highlight

Iceman genome reveals eye colour and blood group

Nature Communications

February 29, 2012

The genome sequence of the Tyrolean Iceman, known as Otzi is reported this week in Nature Communications. The findings reveal previously unknown characteristics of the Iceman including his blood group and eye colour and ailments that he may have had. The mitochondrial genome sequence of the Iceman has previously been reported, but now Albert Zink and colleagues reveal the entire genome sequence of the Iceman. The genome reveals that the Iceman who was found in Italy lived 5300 years ago probably had brown eyes, was blood group O and was lactose intolerant. By analysing the genetics further they found that the Iceman had a predisposition to cardiovascular disease which is corroborated by the vascular calcification found in the mummy. Traces of the genome of the Lyme’s disease pathogen Borrelia burgdorferi - representing the earliest finding of this pathogen - suggest the Iceman may have also carried this infection.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms1701

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