High Ancient Genetic Diversity of Human Lice, Pediculus humanus, from Israel Reveals New Insights into the Origin of Clade B Lice

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2016
Authors:N. Amanzougaghene, Mumcuoglu, K. Y., Fenollar, F., Alfi, S., Yesilyurt, G., Raoult, D., Mediannikov, O.
Secondary Authors:F. Gao
Journal:PLOS ONE
Pagination:14 pp
Date Published:Feb-10-2017

The human head louse, Pediculus humanus capitis, is subdivided into several significantly divergent mitochondrial haplogroups, each with particular geographical distributions. His- torically, they are among the oldest human parasites, representing an excellent marker for tracking older events in human evolutionary history. In this study, ancient DNA analysis using real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), combined with conventional PCR, was applied to the remains of twenty-four ancient head lice and their eggs from the Roman period which were recovered from Israel. The lice and eggs were found in three combs, one of which was recovered from archaeological excavations in the Hatzeva area of the Judean desert, and two of which found in Moa, in the Arava region, close to the Dead Sea. Results show that the head lice remains dating approximately to 2,000 years old have a cytb hap- logroup A, which is worldwide in distribution, and haplogroup B, which has thus far only been found in contemporary lice from America, Europe, Australia and, most recently, Africa. More specifically, this haplogroup B has a B36 haplotype, the most common among B haplogroups, and has been present in America for at least 4,000 years. The present find- ings confirm that clade B lice existed, at least in the Middle East, prior to contacts between Native Americans and Europeans. These results support a Middle Eastern origin for clade B followed by its introduction into the New World with the early peoples. Lastly, the pres- ence of Acinetobacter baumannii DNA was demonstrated by qPCR and sequencing in four head lice remains belonging to clade A.

Short Title:PLoS ONE
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