Scientists have gained new insights about the first historically proven pandemic.
To understand the early evolution of the bacteria that caused the outbreak, Yersinia pestis, the researchers isolated deadly microbes from ancient human remains found at 21 archeological sites in England, Germany, France and Spain.
The researchers were able to reconstruct the genomes of eight different tribes from the plague, including the tribe for the kingdom in 541, which was responsible for the pandemic of the Eastern Roman Justinian outbreak. The pandemic lasted for almost two centuries, spreading in periodic waves in the Mediterranean and Europe.
So far, scientists are not convinced that the Yustinianskata outbreak, called the first pandemic, took so long. The latest research, published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, gives scientists a detailed view on the diversity of Y. pestis strains, moving through Europe in the 6th, 7th and 8th centuries.
“A collection of genomes covering a broad geographical and temporal spectrum allows us to assess the existence of Y. pestis microbes in Europe during the First Pandemic. The Max Planck Institute for Science for the History of Humanity, said in a press release.
Genome analysis shows that some very close tribes feed the Justinian epidemic. Maybe some tribes arrived at the same time in the same place. Because eight strains are included in the same genetic lineage, the researchers suggest that the outbreak has not returned in Europe and the Mediterranean between 540 and 750, and continues to
The new analysis also revealed genetic similarities between strains that provoked the first and second pandemic that struck Europe 800-1000 years later. Two Y. pestis lines develop similar genetic deletions.
“This is a possible example of convergent evolution, which means that the Y. pestis strain has the same characteristics,” said Maria Shpiru, a Max Planck researcher. “Such changes might reflect adaptations to certain ecological niches in western Eurasia, where the outbreak was distributed over two pandemics.”