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Date:9/20/2013

ori in the guts of non-Baka individuals, although only about 20% of the hunter-gatherer Baka pygmies were infected with the bacterium. Furthermore, the scientists were unable to detect any strains of Helicobacter pylori specific to the pygmies: the bacteria instead appeared to come from groups associated with Nilo-Saharan populations or with a new subpopulation that seemed to relate to the expansion of Bantu-speaking tribes.

Bacteria are lost from small populations

Valeria Montano in Moodley's lab in Vienna used a population demographic model to estimate the age of association between Baka and non-Baka Helicobacter populations, which she found to be as recent as two to four thousand years. Further simulations suggested that the pygmies could easily "lose" the bacterium from their guts because of the small population size of the Baka tribe, possibly combined with the relatively low life expectancy of individual tribe members. The Helicobacter now infecting Baka pygmies are thus not the descendants of an ancient bacterial population but instead come from repeated re-infections from the pygmies' non-Baka neighbours over the last few thousand years.

Moodley is naturally excited by the findings. "We had expected to find an ancient lineage of bacteria in the pygmies but instead showed that certain demographic factors such as small population size and unusually low life expectancy could lead to the natural eradication of the bacteria from human populations."


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Contact: Susanna Kautschitsch
susanna.kautschitsch@vetmeduni.ac.at
43-120-577-1153
University of Veterinary Medicine -- Vienna
Source:Eurekalert

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