Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Life Found In Ancient Tombs

Date:
October 1, 2008
Source:
Society for General Microbiology
Summary:
Life has been discovered in the barren depths of Rome's ancient tombs, proving catacombs are not just a resting place for the dead. The two new species of bacteria found growing on the walls of the Roman tombs may help protect our cultural heritage monuments, according to research published in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology.

Life has been discovered in the barren depths of Rome's ancient tombs, proving catacombs are not just a resting place for the dead. The two new species of bacteria found growing on the walls of the Roman tombs may help protect our cultural heritage monuments, according to research published in the September issue of the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology.

The Catacombs of Saint Callistus are part of a massive graveyard that covers 15 hectares, equivalent to more than 20 football pitches. The underground tombs were built at the end of the 2nd Century AD and were named after Pope Saint Callistus I. More than 30 popes and martyrs are buried in the catacombs.

"Bacteria can grow on the walls of these underground tombs and often cause damage," said Professor Dr Clara Urzì from the University of Messina in Italy. "We found two new species of bacteria on decayed surfaces in the catacombs and we think the bacteria, which belong to the Kribbella group, may have been involved in the destruction."

By studying bacteria that ruin monuments, the researchers hope to develop methods of protecting cultural heritage sites such as the catacombs in Rome. The two new bacterial species discovered in the tombs also have the potential to produce molecules that have useful properties, like enzymes and antibiotics.

"The special conditions in the catacombs have allowed unique species to evolve," said Professor Dr Urzì. "In fact, the two different Kribbella species we discovered were taken from two sites very close to each other; this shows that even small changes in the micro-environment can lead bacteria to evolve separately."

Kribbella species are found in many different locations all over the world, from a racecourse in South Africa to a medieval mine in Germany. The genus was only discovered in 1999 but since then several species have been found. The two species discovered in the Roman catacombs have been named Kribbella catacumbae and Kribbella sancticallisti.

"The worldwide existence of the genus Kribbella raises questions about the path of evolution," said Professor Dr Urzì. "If the bacteria are very old, does the wide geographical distribution prove the genus is stable? Or have similar bacteria evolved in parallel to one another in different places? The questions are made even more interesting by the discovery of these two different bacteria in the Roman tombs."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for General Microbiology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Urzi, Clara, De Leo, Filomena, Schumann, Peter. Kribbella catacumbae sp. nov. and Kribbella sancticallisti sp. nov., isolated from whitish-grey patinas in the catacombs of St Callistus in Rome, Italy. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol, 2008; 58 (9): 2090 DOI: 10.1099/ijs.0.65613-0

Cite This Page:

Society for General Microbiology. "New Life Found In Ancient Tombs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080924192443.htm>.
Society for General Microbiology. (2008, October 1). New Life Found In Ancient Tombs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080924192443.htm
Society for General Microbiology. "New Life Found In Ancient Tombs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080924192443.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) — Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) — An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins