The Story of Helicobacter pylori: Depicting Human Migrations from the Phylogeography

  • Langgeng Agung Waskito
  • Yoshio YamaokaEmail author
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1149)


Helicobacter pylori is a spiral-shaped Gram-negative bacterium, which has infected more than half of the human population. Besides its colonisation capability, the genetic diversity of H. pylori is exceptionally well structured and belongs to several distinct genetic populations, depicting various prehistorical human migration events. The evolutionary relationship of H. pylori with its host had been started at least ~100,000 years ago. In addition, the discovery of the ancient H. pylori genome from a European Copper Age glacier mummy, “The Iceman”, gave the idea that the second out of Africa migration resulted in the recombinant population of hpEurope at least about 5300 years ago. The advancement of next-generation genome sequencing discovered the prophage of H. pylori and could discriminate the big population of hpEurope into two different subpopulations. In addition, the implementation of the chromopainter/fineSTRUCTURE algorithm to the whole genome analysis of H. pylori provides a finer resolution population genetics of H. pylori; therefore it could also depict the recent migrations within the past 500 years after colonial expansion. This discovery shows that the genetic recombination of H. pylori strains is far more dynamic compared to its human host, but still maintains the similarity to its host, suggesting that H. pylori is a handy tool to reconstruct the human migration both in the past and the recent.


Helicobacter pylori Human migration Phylogeography Population genetics Next-generation sequencing 



This work was supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health (DK62813) and the Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) of Japan (221S0002, 16H06279, 15H02657 and 16H05191) (YY). It was also supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Institutional Program for Core-to-Core Program; B. Africa-Asia Science Platform (YY). LAW is a doctoral students supported by the Japanese Government (The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology [MEXT]) Scholarship Program for 2015.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of MedicineOita UniversityYufuJapan
  2. 2.Institute of Tropical DiseaseUniversitas AirlanggaSurabayaIndonesia
  3. 3.Department of Medicine, Gastroenterology and Hepatology SectionBaylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA

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