Also Seen: Justinian’s Plague ~ Yersina Pestis?

A bit outside our purview, but worth noting, is  a study which did some genomic type research and found a possible connection (not overly stressed) with Justinian’s plague … read about it here:

Here’s the abstract, just for tl;dr purposes:

The successful reconstruction of an ancient bacterial genome from archaeological material presents an important methodological advancement for infectious disease research. The reliability of evolutionary histories inferred by the incorporation of ancient data, however, are highly contingent upon the level of genetic diversity represented in modern genomic sequences that are publicly accessible, and the paucity of available complete genomes restricts the level of phylogenetic resolution that can be obtained. Here we add to our original analysis of the Yersinia pestis strain implicated in the Black Death by consolidating our dataset for 18 modern genomes with single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data for an additional 289 strains at over 600 positions. The inclusion of this additional data reveals a cluster of Y. pestis strains that diverge at a time significantly in advance of the Black Death, with divergence dates roughly coincident with the Plague of Justinian (6th to 8th century AD). In addition, the analysis reveals further clues regarding potential radiation events that occurred immediately preceding the Black Death, and the legacy it may have left in modern Y. pestis populations. This work reiterates the need for more publicly available complete genomes, both modern and ancient, to achieve an accurate understanding of the history of this bacterium.

One thought on “Also Seen: Justinian’s Plague ~ Yersina Pestis?

  1. Well, let us hope, it does not / cannot ever make a come-back!
    (I am told that the WWI flu is another thing we risk, if the wrong grave was opened and proper steps were not taken.)
    I think even with our modern technology, we would be in big trouble….
    (Because people travel much farther and faster than we used to. Consider what happened with SARS, a few years ago!)
    This is one reason why I favour research, but careful research. It would not take much for us to be up against such a population killer, once again.

    And, if you want a quick, gruesome little ditty that “tells you more about the black death than you ever wanted to know”, listen to this:
    Black Death (Based on: “Hollaback Girl” by Gwen Stefani)
    Fleas on rats!
    (The History Teachers)

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