A new study analysing the ancient DNA of head lice and their eggs from the Roman period has revealed that clade B lice existed, at least in the Middle East, prior to contacts between Native Americans and Europeans.
The study by Amanzougaghene et al., published in the October 2016 edition of the PLos One Journal used real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), combined with conventional PCR to analyse the remains of twenty-four ancient head lice and their eggs.
The study also suggests that the head lice remains dating approximately to 2,000 years old have a cytb haplogroup A, which is worldwide in distribution, and haplogroup B, which has thus far only been found in contemporary lice from America, Europe, Australia and, most recently, Africa.
The presence of Acinetobacter baumannii DNA was demonstrated by qPCR and sequencing in four head lice remains belonging to clade A.
The findings support a Middle Eastern origin for clade B followed by its introduction into the New World with the early peoples.