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01.04.2015 | main topic | Ausgabe 7-8/2015

Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift 7-8/2015

Ancient pathogens in museal dry bone specimens: analysis of paleocytology and aDNA

Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift > Ausgabe 7-8/2015
Johanna Sophia Gaul, Eduard Winter, Asst.-Prof. Dr. Karl Grossschmidt


Bone samples investigated in this study derive from the pathologic–anatomical collection of the Natural History Museum of Vienna. In order to explore the survival of treponemes and treponemal ancient DNA in museal dry bone specimens, we analyzed three individuals known to have been infected with Treponema pallidum pallidum. No reproducible evidence of surviving pathogen’s ancient DNA (aDNA) was obtained, despite the highly sensitive extraction and amplification techniques (TPP15 and arp). Additionally, decalcification fluid of bone sections was smear stained with May-Gruenwald-Giemsa. The slides were examined using direct light microscope and dark field illumination. Remnants of spirochetal structures were detectable in every smear. Our results demonstrate that aDNA is unlikely to survive, but spirochetal remains are stainable and thus detectable.

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