In a 5000 years old tomb Palaeogeneticist have discovered the oldest-known strain of the plague pathogen. The researchers suggest that the plague appeared first in Eastern Europe, and trade routes spread. the By Astrid I did not practise by Astrid I did not practise

Dr. Astrid I did not practise is a Doctor and works at the newspaper süddeutsche Zeitung for the weekend-sites of the departments of Knowledge. Prior to joining POI, she has lived for three years as a freelance journalist in Paris, employed in the Cross-Border team with investigative research, with the help of European grants. Previously, she was an editor at Focus, time, and star, has reported for the star for two years from Los Angeles. Medicine she has studied in Regensburg, Würzburg and Zaragoza, their Practical year spent in Bordeaux, Seville and Salamanca. Astrid I did not practise as a lecturer at the University of Freiburg, the Bavarian press Academy and the Mexican Academy of Sciences.

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In a mass grave, they were piled, the Remains of 78 people. In the vicinity of the present farm Frälsegården in Gökhem in the case of Falköping in West Sweden, they died in a short time, in succession, in front of about 4900 to 5100 years. What had happened? For a battle, there were no signs, everything is a language for a hitherto unknown epidemic.

a genetic analysis of the Remains was able to solve the puzzle now: The people had died of the plague. Never-before-researchers have discovered a so old strain of bacteria of the dreaded pathogen, so it is said by Palaeogeneticist and archaeologists from Sweden, Denmark and France are currently in the journal Cell.

Large outbreaks of the plague are from the story alone, the Black death in the 14th century. Centuries cost an estimated 25 million people in the life. “It is perhaps the most fatal to humans, most bacteria that have ever existed,” says study author Simon Rasmussen, a systems biologist at the Technical University of Copenhagen.

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The plague mankind during the bronze age home – much more than previously thought. By Kai Kupferschmidt

With the help of his analysis of ancient DNA were able to go Rasmussen and colleagues on a kind of trip back in time and see how the pathogen Yersinia pestis once it has spread. And as he is so dangerous.

crawled Rasmussen and his colleagues initially, databases, saw the ancient gene sequences from ancient human Remains, searched for Similarities with the modern plague strains. In the mass grave they have been able to find. It was excavated in 1999 and 2001 at the top. The recovered Remains represent the best-documented bone material Casinometropol from a passage grave in Scandinavia, and reported in the study involved archaeologist Karl-Göran Sjögren. In the Neolithic period such burial sites in present-day Sweden, were common, they were made of unhewn blocks of stone, a corridor and a chamber.

the human Remains of Frälsegården the Palaeogeneticist found a strain of bacteria they had never seen before. He wore genes in which the lung plague today, which is often deadly disease.

“leave The places were burned down”

but Where the pathogen came from and how he had arrived in the tiny village in Western Sweden? Until then, scientists had believed that the immigrants of a major wave of Migration brought the plague about 5000 years ago from the Eurasian steppes to Europe. The the Team of Rasmussen speaks now: The current genetic analysis revealed that the bacteria from the Remains of the young woman, whose Remains were also in the mass grave belonged to a tribe that had already developed before 5700 years ago, before the start of the great walks.

at that time, were widespread in Parts of Eastern Europe, large settlements with up to 20 000 inhabitants. “These settlements were ten times as large as all the other places of residence,” says Rasmussen. There people in a confined space, lived in direct contact with animals, which were probably the original source of the infectious agent.

the storage of food attracted rodents. And, presumably, poor sanitation, bacteria were able to grow in an uncontrolled manner. “These were ideal conditions for the Occurrence of infectious diseases, especially plague,” says the microbiologist Nicolás Rascovan of the University of Aix-Marseille, who was also involved in the current work.

Interestingly, the collapse in the mega-settlements by the time to suspect the scientists of the plague outbreaks. “The places were deserted and burnt,” says Rasmussen. The plague began over trade routes to spread to the small settlement in Sweden, in which the woman lived from the mass grave once, suspected of Palaeogeneticist. Why he believes this? Because the genetic analyses of his colleagues, it emerged that the young woman from the mass grave was with those people related to, who came from the Eurasian Steppe to Europe. The plague was, therefore, probably originated in Eastern Europe, declared Rasmussen.

Other researchers are still not convinced. “This is very speculative,” says Johannes Krause, a Director at the Max-Planck-Institute for human history in Jena. A research team led by Palaeogeneticist had published in the past year also a study on genetic analysis of different pest pathogens from the Neolithic period and bronze age. Also, Krause and colleagues obtained ancient genetic material from human skeletons, including the Remains of two people in the Augsburg area. “The pathogens were in the bronze age, very mobile and could in a short time the whole of Eurasia cross,” says Krause.

In any case, the genetic analysis of the various bacteria help the tribes, the history of evolution of the plague pathogen to understand. How in a relatively short time from a harmless intestinal bacterium one of the most dangerous pathogens to humans could develop. “We want to understand what genetic changes have made this possible and the order in which they occurred,” says the microbiologist Rascovan from the team of researchers of the current study. Then the researchers may be able to the appearance of new pathogens to predict.