Research press release


Scientific Reports

Archaeology: First Pompeiian human genome sequenced

ポンペイ(現在のイタリア南部にあった古代都市)で西暦79年のベスビオ火山噴火後に死亡したヒトのゲノム塩基配列が初めて解読されたことを報告する論文が、Scientific Reports に掲載される。これまでは、ポンペイの住民と動物の遺骸から採取されたミトコンドリアDNAの短い一部の塩基配列しか解読されていなかった。

今回、Gabriele Scorranoたちは、ポンペイのCasa del Fabbro(鍛冶屋の家)で発見された2体の遺骸を調べ、それらからDNAを抽出した。遺骨の骨格の形状、構造、長さから、一方は死亡時に35~40歳だった男性のもの、もう一方は50歳以上の女性のものであることが明らかになった。Scorranoたちは、両方の遺骸から古代DNAを抽出して、ゲノム塩基配列の解読を試みたが、ゲノム全体の塩基配列を解読できたのは男性の遺骸だけで、女性の遺骸から抽出されたDNAからは十分な遺伝情報を読み取れなかった。




The first successfully sequenced human genome from an individual who died in Pompeii, Italy, after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE is presented this week in a study published in Scientific Reports. Prior to this, only short stretches of mitochondrial DNA from Pompeiian human and animal remains had been sequenced.

Gabriele Scorrano and colleagues examined the remains of two individuals who were found in the House of the Craftsman in Pompeii and extracted their DNA. The shape, structure, and length of the skeletons indicated that one set of remains belonged to a male who was aged between 35 and 40 years at the time of his death, while the other set of remains belonged to a female aged over 50 years old. Although the authors were able to extract and sequence ancient DNA from both individuals, they were only able to sequence the entire genome from the male’s remains due to gaps in the sequences obtained from the female’s remains.

Comparisons of the male individual’s DNA with DNA obtained from 1,030 other ancient and 471 modern western Eurasian individuals suggested that his DNA shared the most similarities with modern central Italians and other individuals who lived in Italy during the Roman Imperial age. However, analyses of the male individual’s mitochondrial and Y chromosome DNA also identified groups of genes that are commonly found in those from the island of Sardinia, but not among other individuals who lived in Italy during the Roman Imperial age. This suggests that there may have been high levels of genetic diversity across the Italian Peninsula during this time.

Additional analyses of the male individual’s skeleton and DNA identified lesions in one of the vertebrae and DNA sequences that are commonly found in Mycobacterium, the group of bacteria that the tuberculosis-causing bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis belongs to. This suggests that the individual may have been affected by tuberculosis prior to his death.

The authors speculate that it may have been possible to successfully recover ancient DNA from the male individual’s remains as pyroclastic materials released during the eruption may have provided protection from DNA-degrading environmental factors, such as atmospheric oxygen. The findings demonstrate the possibility to retrieve ancient DNA from Pompeiian human remains and provide further insight into the genetic history and lives of this population, they add.

doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-10899-1


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