Plague genome offers clues about origins of Black Death pandemic

black death ala
This 1348 painting shows how plague devastated European cities like Florence. Image credit: Interfoto/Alamy

Yersinia pestis, the subject of [Barbara Bramanti’s] research, is the bacterium responsible for three bubonic plague pandemics over human history.

The origin of the second Medieval epidemic and the routes by which it was transmitted are as yet unclear.

[Bramanti] and her group sequenced five new plague genomes from 14th century skeletons in Italy, France, Holland, and Norway. They also reanalyzed previously isolated plague samples so they could confidently compare the samples.

The bacteria they found in France and Norway was the same as that previously identified in London and Barcelona as responsible for the Black Death there (with the caveat that they didn’t sequence the entire genome; all of the DNA that was analyzed was identical). The Italian variant, taken from a mass grave, had sequences that dated it as a more recent strain than the others. Bramanti thinks that this strain came from overseas through the port of Pisa and acquired its new sequences as it scythed through Tuscany in 1348.

Related article:  Viewpoint: ‘Chickenpox parties’ aren’t just unnecessary—they’re incredibly dangerous

These genetic analyses, along with climatic studies done by Bramanti’s colleague Nils Stenseth, all argue that Yersinia pestis entered Western Europe from Asia repeatedly during the second plague pandemic rather than hanging out in Western European rodents the whole time.

Read full, original post: Medieval European plague genomes hint at Black Death’s travels

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Nigeriacotton

Video: We can ‘finally’ grow GMOs—Nigerian farmer explains why developing countries need biotech crops

Nigerian farmer Patience Koku discusses the GMO crop trials she is conducting on her farm, and why growers can "rise ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
breastfeeding bed x facebook x

Infographic: We know breastfeeding helps children. Now we know it helps mothers too

When a woman becomes pregnant, her risk of type 2 diabetes increases for the rest of her life, perhaps because ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend