Illuminating the evolutionary history of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC)

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  • Project duration: -
  • Project status: finished
  • Funding:
    Internal funding EURAC (Project)
  • Institute: Institute for Mummy Studies

To date, tuberculosis is one of top ten causes of death in the world. Recent approaches to stop the spread of this disease often fail because of the lack of knowledge about the evolutionary past of its causing agent Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Skeletal changes in ancient human remains prove that tuberculosis has been a scourge of mankind for several thousand years. Yet, investigations on a molecular level remain difficult due to poor conservation and high environmental contamination of samples.

In this project, we aim to reconstruct ancient Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) genomes by using an interdisciplinary approach. First, we aim to optimize an enrichment technique that targets MTBC specific DNA. Next, we will produce high resolution ancient genomic data by next-generation sequencing and apply computational biological tools to understand the onset and development of this pathogen.

Metagenomic analysis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in ancient human remains
Jäger HY (2023)
PhD thesis
Metagenomic analysis reveals mixed Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in a 18th century Hungarian midwife
Jäger HY, Maixner F, Pap I, Szikossy I, Pálfi G, Zink AR (2022)
Journal article

More information: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tube.2022.102181


A rare case of calvarial tuberculosis from the Avar Age (8th century CE) cemetery of Kaba–Bitózug (Hajdú-Bihar county, Hungary): Pathogenesis and differential diagnostic aspects
Spekker O, Varadi OA, Szekeres A, Jäger HY, Zink A, Berner M, Pany-Kucera D, Strondl L, Klostermann P, Samu L, Kiraly K, Bereczki Z, Molnar E, Palfi G, Tihanyi B (2022)
Journal article


Verification of tuberculosis infection among Vác mummies (18th century CE, Hungary) based on lipid biomarker profiling with a new HPLC-HESI-MS approach
Váradi OA, Rakk D, Spekker O, Terhes G, Urbán E, Berthon W, Pap I, Szikossy I, Maixner F, Zink A, Vágvólgyi C, Donoghue H, Minnikin D, Szekeres A, Pálfi G (2021)
Journal article

More information: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tube.2020.102037



Lipid biomarker based verification of TB infection in mother’s and daughter’s mummified human remains (Vác Mummy Collection, 18th century, CE, Hungary)
Váradia OA, Szikossy I, Spekkera O, Rakk D, Terhes G, Urbán E, Berthon W, Pap I, Maixner F, Zink A, Vágvölgyi C, Donoghue HD, Minnikin DE, Pálfi´G, Szekeres A (2020)
Journal article
Acta Biologica Szegediensis

More information: http://abs.bibl.u-szeged.hu/index.php/abs



TB, or not TB, that is the question! Molecular evolutionary analysis of tuberculosis in ancient human remains
Maixner F, Jäger HY, Pap I, Szikossy I, Pálfi G, Zink A (2019)

Conference: Health and Life in Ancient Egypt - Mummies in Focus Conference | Budapest | 27.8.2019 - 30.8.2019


Approche d´enrichissement en solution ciblant l´ADN génomique du complexe Mycobacterium tuberculosis (CMTB) provenant de vestiges humains archéologiques TB-positifs
Jacqueroud C, Maixner F, Granehäll F, Molnár E, Pálfi G, Zink A, Dutour O (2018)
Tuberculosis in early medieval Switzerland: osteological and molecular evidence from Courroux
Cooper C, Fellner R, Heubi O, Maixner F, Zink A, Lösch S (2016)
Journal article
Swiss Medical Weekly



Our partners
1 - 2
  • Department of Biological Anthropology, University of Szeged, Dugonics Ter, Szeged, Hungary

  • Hungarian Natural History Museum

Project Team
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Heidi Yoko Jäger

Heidi Yoko Jäger

Project Manager


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Institute's Projects