Tuberculosis: From prehistory to Robert Koch, as revealed by ancient DNA

Helen D. Donoghue*, Mark Spigelman, Charles L. Greenblatt, Galit Lev-Maor, Gila Kahila Bar-Gal, Carney Matheson, Kim Vernon, Andreas G. Nerlich, Albert R. Zink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


During the past 10 years palaeomicrobiology, a new scientific discipline, has developed. The study of ancient pathogens by direct detection of their DNA has answered several historical questions and shown changes to pathogens over time. However, ancient DNA (aDNA) continues to be controversial and great care is needed to provide valid data. Here we review the most successful application of the technology, which is the study of tuberculosis. This has provided direct support for the current theory of Mycobacterium tuberculosis evolution, and suggests areas of investigation for the interaction of M tuberculosis with its host.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)584-592
Number of pages9
JournalThe Lancet Infectious Diseases
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2004
Externally publishedYes


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