Pre-Columbian zoonotic enteric parasites: An insight into Puerto Rican indigenous culture diets and life styles.


The pre-Columbian Huecoid and Saladoid cultures were agricultural ethnic groups that supplemented their diets by fishing, hunting and scavenging. Archaeological deposits associated to these cultures contained a variety of faunal osseous remains that hinted at the cultures' diets. The present study identified zoonotic parasites that may have infected these two cultures as a result of their diets. We used metagenomic sequencing and microscopy data from 540-1,400 year old coprolites as well as the zooarchaeological data to recreate the possible interactions between zoonotic parasites and their hosts. Microscopy revealed Diphyllobothrium spp. and Dipylidium caninum eggs along with unidentified cestode and trematode eggs. DNA sequencing together with functional prediction and phylogenetic inference identified reads of Cryptosporidium spp., Giardia intestinalis and Schistosoma spp. The complimentary nature of the molecular, microscopy and zooarchaeology data provided additional insight into the detected zoonotic parasites' potential host range. Network modeling revealed that rodents and canids living in close proximity to these cultures were most likely the main source of these zoonotic parasite infections.

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