The digestive systems of all animals contain a large number of different bacteria. Humans are no exception and our intestines provide warmth, shelter and food to a vast range of unicellular organisms, many of which are either beneficial to their hosts or at least cause no ill effects other than consuming some of the food we ingest. However, several species have been associated with disease. Among them is Helicobacter pylori, which may play a part in causing chronic gastritis and gastric ulcers.
An ancient colonizer recently discovered
Helicobacter pylori was only discovered about thirty years ago. Subsequent investigations have shown that it originated in Africa and has been associated with humans for at least 100,000 years. The first humans to be infected with the bacterium were San hunter-gatherers in southern Africa and the infection spread to Europe and Asia when humans left Africa and migrated north and east. Eventually, colonization of Australia and the Americas brought Helicobacter pylori into these continents. The bacterium is now found in about 50% of humans worldwide, making it the most widespread and prevalent infection in our species.
In view of the ancient nature of the association between Helicobacter pylori and man, it seems likely that the stomachs of other hunter-gatherer communities might also contain longstanding and distinct populations of the bacterium. This assumption has now been tested and shown to be incorrect by an international consortium coordinated by Yoshan Moodley of the Vetmeduni's Department of Integrative Biology.
Baka pygmies show a low incidence of Helicobacter infection
Gastric biopsies were taken from Baka pygmies and neighbouring agricultural communities in south-eastern Cameroon and sent to the Hannover Medical School in Germany for sequencing. The researchers found the expected high prevalence (over 80%) of Helicobacter pyl
|Contact: Susanna Kautschitsch|
University of Veterinary Medicine -- Vienna