Multi-proxy analyses of a mid-15th century Middle Iron Age Bantu-speaker palaeo-faecal specimen elucidates the configuration of the ‘ancestral’ sub-Saharan African intestinal microbiome

Posted on 07.05.2020 - 09:30
Abstract Background The archaeological incidence of ancient human faecal material provides a rare opportunity to explore the taxonomic composition and metabolic capacity of the ancestral human intestinal microbiome (IM). Here, we report the results of the shotgun metagenomic analyses of an ancient South African palaeo-faecal specimen. Methods Following the recovery of a single desiccated palaeo-faecal specimen from Bushman Rock Shelter in Limpopo Province, South Africa, we applied a multi-proxy analytical protocol to the sample. The extraction of ancient DNA from the specimen and its subsequent shotgun metagenomic sequencing facilitated the taxonomic and metabolic characterisation of this ancient human IM. Results Our results indicate that the distal IM of the Neolithic ‘Middle Iron Age’ (c. AD 1460) Bantu-speaking individual exhibits features indicative of a largely mixed forager-agro-pastoralist diet. Subsequent comparison with the IMs of the Tyrolean Iceman (Ötzi) and contemporary Hadza hunter-gatherers, Malawian agro-pastoralists and Italians reveals that this IM precedes recent adaptation to ‘Western’ diets, including the consumption of coffee, tea, chocolate, citrus and soy, and the use of antibiotics, analgesics and also exposure to various toxic environmental pollutants. Conclusions Our analyses reveal some of the causes and means by which current human IMs are likely to have responded to recent dietary changes, prescription medications and environmental pollutants, providing rare insight into human IM evolution following the advent of the Neolithic c. 12,000 years ago. Video Abtract.

CITE THIS COLLECTION

Rifkin, Riaan F.; Vikram, Surendra; Ramond, Jean-Baptiste; Rey-Iglesia, Alba; Brand, Tina B.; Porraz, Guillaume; et al. (2020): Multi-proxy analyses of a mid-15th century Middle Iron Age Bantu-speaker palaeo-faecal specimen elucidates the configuration of the ‘ancestral’ sub-Saharan African intestinal microbiome. figshare. Collection. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.4967438.v1
or
Select your citation style and then place your mouse over the citation text to select it.

SHARE

email

Usage metrics

Microbiome

AUTHORS (17)

Riaan F. Rifkin
Surendra Vikram
Jean-Baptiste Ramond
Alba Rey-Iglesia
Tina B. Brand
Guillaume Porraz
Aurore Val
Grant Hall
Stephan Woodborne
Matthieu Le Bailly
Marnie Potgieter
Simon J. Underdown
Jessica E. Koopman
Don A. Cowan
Yves Van de Peer
Eske Willerslev
Anders J. Hansen
need help?