My last blog post on the Black Death highlighted research that suggested that the reintroduction of Yersinia pestis, the causative agent of the pandemic, originated in Europe during the 14–18th centuries rather than from Asia, the hypothesized origin. In my post, I wrote about my curiosity regarding what an Asian skeleton positive for Y. pestis from that same time period would reveal about the strain or strains that were circulating. Well, a team of researchers has been exploring the issue of strain circulation and an Asian connection, and recently published what they gleaned from additional historic Y. pestis samples in Cell Host & Microbe.
Teeth from 178 individuals in three different locations (two European, one Asian) were screened for Y. pestis infection using the plasminogen activator (pla) gene. Continue reading “Digging Up More Clues in the History of the Black Death”