Historical Y. pestis Genomes Reveal the European Black Death as the Source of Ancient and Modern Plague Pandemics
Cell host & microbe | 10 Jun 2016
MA Spyrou, RI Tukhbatova, M Feldman, J Drath, S Kacki, J Beltrán de Heredia, S Arnold, AG Sitdikov, D Castex, J Wahl, IR Gazimzyanov, DK Nurgaliev, A Herbig, KI Bos and J Krause
Ancient DNA analysis has revealed an involvement of the bacterial pathogen Yersinia pestis in several historical pandemics, including the second plague pandemic (Europe, mid-14(th) century Black Death until the mid-18(th) century AD). Here we present reconstructed Y. pestis genomes from plague victims of the Black Death and two subsequent historical outbreaks spanning Europe and its vicinity, namely Barcelona, Spain (1300-1420 cal AD), Bolgar City, Russia (1362-1400 AD), and Ellwangen, Germany (1485-1627 cal AD). Our results provide support for (1) a single entry of Y. pestis in Europe during the Black Death, (2) a wave of plague that traveled toward Asia to later become the source population for contemporary worldwide epidemics, and (3) the presence of an historical European plague focus involved in post-Black Death outbreaks that is now likely extinct.
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