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    This study provides an example in the emerging field of biocodicology showing how metagenomics can help answer relevant questions that may contribute to a better understanding of the history of ancient manuscripts. To this end, two Slavonic codices dating from the 11th century were investigated through shotgun metagenomics. Endogenous DNA enabled to infer the animal origin of the skins used in the manufacture of the two codices, while nucleic sequences recovered from viruses were investigated for the first time in this material, opening up new possibilities in the field of biocodicology. In addition, the microbiomes colonizing the surface of the parchments served to determine their conservation status and their latent risk of deterioration. The saline environment provided by the parchments selected halophilic and halotolerant microorganisms, which are known to be responsible for the biodegradation of parchment. Species of Nocardiopsis, Gracilibacillus and Saccharopolyspora, but also members of the Aspergillaceae family were detected in this study, all possessing enzymatic capabilities for the biodeterioration of this material. Finally, a relative abundance of microorganisms originating from the human skin microbiome were identified, most probably related to the intensive manipulation of the manuscripts throughout the centuries, which should be taken with caution as they can be potential pathogens. © 2020 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


    Guadalupe Piñar, Hakim Tafer, Manfred Schreiner, Heinz Miklas, Katja Sterflinger. Decoding the biological information contained in two ancient Slavonic parchment codices: an added historical value. Environmental microbiology. 2020 Aug;22(8):3218-3233

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    PMID: 32400083

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