The famous Black Death pandemic or plague which in the fourteenth century decimated the European population could be at the origin of the current plague outbreaks, according to a genetic study published Wednesday in the journal Nature. This research, led by Professor Johannes Krause of the German University of Tübingen, indicating that the bacterium Yersinia pestis causes plague epidemics still occur in parts of the world would be basically the same that ravaged medieval times.
Krause and his team came to this conclusion after reconstructing interim phasethe genome of the bacterium Yersinia pestis from original DNA extracted fromthe remains of four victims of the plague buried in the East Smithfield cemeteryin London, which was acquired between 1348 and 1349 for those killed by the disease. Analyses indicate that the devastating plague of the fourteenth centurycould be responsible for the introduction and spread worldwide strains of Y.pestis that are still circulating today, although today this disease is treatable and curable.
Furthermore, say the experts, the comparison of the genomes of modern strains with those of the former reveals that apart from microbial genetics,current infections are influenced by other factors, such as environmental orsusceptibility of the carrier itself. The Black Death (1347-1351), believed to have originated in rodents in China and spread through fleas on rats, ”is afundamental historical example of an emerging infection with rapid spread andhigh mortality,” since halved the population of Europe in a period of five years, says Nature.
The British journal explains that technological advances in the recovery of DNA that facilitates the sequencing of the genome of ancient specimens.