Identifying the Precise Genome of the Black Death

by Malc on November 28, 2011

Illustration of the Black Death from the Togge...

The Black Death, which swept through London in the 14th century, killed around 40% of the population. That was some epidemic.

In an effort to understand microbial development and behaviour, with a view to helping us to deal with future infections, the science of paleomicrobiology has developed: the piecing together of genetic evidence from centuries ago.

It is interesting to paleomicrobiologists just why the Black Death was so very virulent. The ability to sequence of the genome – to know the precise composition of a human individual’s DNA from end to end – has made the task of finding out this information much more possible. The ability for paleomicrobiologists and historians to work together will deepen our understanding of the migrating activity of microbes and the progress of pandemics. This can only help us to spot them early and to be able to deal with them.


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