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Angela
06-12-16, 18:13
This isn't particularly surprising. Malaria, and very lethal strains of it, seem to have been very widespread in the ancient world. Remember the paper on Tut which said it was a contributing factor to his death?

Leprosy was also pretty common, and tuberculosis.

See:

http://www.archaeology.org/news/5066-161205-italy-malaria-parasite We haven't gotten these ancient mtDna results have we?

"HAMILTON, CANADA—The International Business Times (http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/malaria-ravaged-ancient-roman-empire-2000-years-ago-1594888) reports that genetic evidence for the presence of malaria in the ancient world has been found in human teeth. Historical sources describe fevers in ancient Greece and Rome, but the specific disease that caused them has been unknown. A team of researchers led by geneticist Hendrik Poinar of McMaster University’s Ancient DNA Center examined mitochondrial DNA obtained from the teeth of 58 adults and ten children who had been buried in three different cemeteries in Italy between the first and third centuries A.D. They found genetic evidence of Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite transmitted by mosquitoes that causes malaria, in teeth from two individuals. Plasmodium falciparum is the most common species of malaria parasite that infects people in sub-Saharan Africa—and the most deadly. Scholars now want to know how widespread the parasite was in the ancient world. The new evidence also provides scientists with more information about how the disease has evolved."

We haven't gotten these ancient mtDna results have we?

Anyway, although I remember a pretty recent paper on some remains with leprosy being found in northern or northeastern Europe (was it Poland?), the incidence of malaria would no doubt have been higher in more southern climes with a longer and hotter summer season given the spread by mosquitoes.

The higher rate of exposure of some southern European populations to these kinds of diseases, and the subsequent ramping up of the immune system to deal with it was listed as a possible reason for the higher rates of autoimmune disorders in Italians, and on a south/north cline.

I think there's more to it than that, but I can see that as a factor. See:
http://www.nature.com/articles/srep32513

Angela
07-12-16, 18:51
Some of this Roman era mtDna was typed. In the supplement we can find this:

"We also evaluated SNPs in our reconstructed human mitochondrial genomes. All SNPs were called by Geneious (v. 7.1.2) (http://www.geneious.com (http://www.geneious.com/))[S41] at 5X coverage and 90% minimum variant frequency and also interpreted via HaploGrep2 [S53], with mutations indicated(absent, expected, private). The haplogroup of each individual was determined using HaploGrep2 [S53] from a consensus fasta file generated from the mitochondrial alignments, with the resultant SNP calls compared between HaploGrep2 [S53] and PhyloTree Build 17 [S54]: the haplogroup for sample LG20 is consistent with T2c1e (88.16% quality score) and LV13 is consistent with haplogroup T2b29 (62.17% quality score). "

This is the link to the paper:

http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(16)31201-5

This is the link to the supplement:
http://www.cell.com/cms/attachment/2074808631/2069298569/mmc1.pdf

The mtDna T2c1e (LG20) comes from Vagnari. "The historical record attests to the devastation malaria exacted on ancient civilizations, particularly the Roman Empire [1] . However, evidence for the presence of malaria during the Imperial period in Italy (1st–5th century CE) is based on indirect sources, such as historical, epigraphic, or skeletal evidence. Although these sources are crucial for revealing the context of this disease, they cannot establish the causative species of Plasmodium. Importantly, definitive evidence for the presence of malaria is now possible through the implementation of ancient DNA technology. As malaria is presumed to have been at its zenith during the Imperial period [1] , we selected first or second molars from 58 adults from three cemeteries from this time: Isola Sacra (associated with Portus Romae, 1st–3rd century CE), Velia (1st–2nd century CE), and Vagnari (1st–4th century CE). We performed hybridization capture using baits designed from the mitochondrial (mtDNA) genomes of Plasmodium spp. on a prioritized subset of 11 adults (informed by metagenomic sequencing). The mtDNA sequences generated provided compelling phylogenetic evidence for the presence of P. falciparum in two individuals. This is the first genomic data directly implicating P. falciparum in Imperial period southern Italy in adults.."

The mtDna T2b29 (LV13) comes from Velia. "The historical record attests to the devastation malaria exacted on ancient civilizations, particularly the Roman Empire [1] . However, evidence for the presence of malaria during the Imperial period in Italy (1st–5th century CE) is based on indirect sources, such as historical, epigraphic, or skeletal evidence. Although these sources are crucial for revealing the context of this disease, they cannot establish the causative species of Plasmodium. Importantly, definitive evidence for the presence of malaria is now possible through the implementation of ancient DNA technology. As malaria is presumed to have been at its zenith during the Imperial period [1] , we selected first or second molars from 58 adults from three cemeteries from this time: Isola Sacra (associated with Portus Romae, 1st–3rd century CE), Velia (1st–2nd century CE), and Vagnari (1st–4th century CE). We performed hybridization capture using baits designed from the mitochondrial (mtDNA) genomes of Plasmodium spp. on a prioritized subset of 11 adults (informed by metagenomic sequencing). The mtDNA sequences generated provided compelling phylogenetic evidence for the presence of P. falciparum in two individuals. This is the first genomic data directly implicating P. falciparum in Imperial period southern Italy in adults."

It would have been interesting if they had gotten mtDna from Isola Sacra, a port, with transitory people.