The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

The evolutionary history of Yersinia pestis


1Institute for Archeological Sciences, University of Tuebingen, 2Laboratoire de Paléoanthropologie, École Pratique des Hautes Études, Université de Bordeaux

Thursday 9:30-9:45, Ballroom A Add to calendar

Yersinia pestis is one of the most deadly pathogens to infect human populations. The demonstration that Y. pestis DNA can be successfully retrieved from ancient tissues to the extent that whole genome reconstructions are possible reveals that opportunities to gain additional insight into its evolutionary history are within reach. This paper will summarise current knowledge on the estimates for when it arose as a human pathogen, its level of genetic diversity, and its associations with both historical and contemporary human populations. The methods for how we can acquire additional historical information about the bacterium will be explained, and important outstanding research questions regarding its relationship with human groups will be discussed.

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