Identification of Mycobacterium tuberculosis DNA in a pre-Columbian Peruvian mummy

Wilmar L. Salo, Arthur C. Aufderheide, Jane Buikstra, Todd A. Holcomb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

337 Scopus citations


The existence of tuberculosis in the pre-Columbian Americas is controversial because the morphology of the lesion is not specific, the organism is culturally nonviable in ancient tissues, and nonpathogenic soil mycobacteria can contaminate buried bodies. We report the recovery of DNA unique to Mycobacterium tuberculosis from a lung lesion of a spontaneously mummified, 1000-year-old adult female body in southern Peru. This provides the most specific evidence possible for the pre-Columbian presence of human tuberculosis in the New World.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2091-2094
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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