Microorganisms surviving for 5300 years-Austria

Haselwandter K, Ebner MR.

Department of Microbiology, University of Innsbruck, Austria.

Recently, the well-preserved corpse of a prehistoric man with an age of approximately 5300 years bp was discovered in the Central European Alps. Analysis of materials associated with the individual has revealed the presence of microorganisms which are believed to have survived since the time of death. So far, two fungi have been isolated and identified as species of the genera Chaetomium and Absidia, respectively. In addition, we have obtained one bacterial isolate which we have identified as a Streptomyces species. Our findings demonstrate that microorganisms can remain viable under appropriate circumstances for thousands of years. The isolates may enable us to study evolutionary trends within microorganisms.