Old DNA links the Black Death to the Volga region of Russia

Old DNA links the Black Death to the Volga region of Russia

In the 14th century, as much as 60% of Europe’s population was wiped out by Black Death, spreading quickly from the coasts of the Black Sea to central Europe. Although historical records document its appearance in 1346 CE for the first time. In Russia’s reduced Volga region, researchers did not understand whether the extremely virulent strain of Yersinia pestis bacteria that caused the lethal pandemic originated from a single source or was more than once brought into Europe by tourists carrying various strains of the plague from distinct areas of the ancient world.

Now, through the analysis of 34 ancient Y genomes. Teeth pestis buried in 10 locations across Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries (including a mass tomb in Toulouse, France — above), researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human History Science in Jena, Germany, discovered the earliest known proof of this pandemic in the Volga region of Russia. Researchers discovered a Y strain there. Pestis ancestral to all the other genomes studied, differentiated by only one mutation from those causing Black Death in Europe, is reported in Nature Communications today.

This doesn’t imply that the Volga area was ground zero for the Black Death — it might have come from somewhere in Western Asia, where researchers still have to sample ancient Y DNA. pestis. The scientists discovered that once the plague reached Europe, a single strain from Italy to the United Kingdom was liable for the Black Death. Other versions of Y were also created by this strain. Pestis that triggered lethal outbreaks of plague between the late 14th and 18th centuries. This indicates that the bacterium persisted locally in Europe, possibly in rodent hosts, where it developed into various strains that later triggered epidemics.