A bacteria that caused black fish It was recently found by a group of researchers in a 5,000-year-old skeleton found in Latvia.
The bacterium called Yersina pestis caused the death of almost half of the European population in the fourteenth century, however, the strain discovered is less deadly than its newer versions.
The research was published in the journal Cell Reports and details that the bacteria appeared at least 2,000 years earlier than previously thought.
The author of the main study, Ben Krause-Kyora, who is director of the DNA laboratory at the University of Kiel in Germany, pointed out that with this discovery it seems that “We are very close to the origin of the bacteria.”
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According to the research report, the strain of the bacterium was found in a bone remnant of a hunter-gatherer in his 20s or 30s who was called RV 2039, and who was discovered in an excavation at the end of the century. XIX in the region that is now known as Latvia.
This finding had remained hidden and had remained hidden until 2011, after a new investigation allowed the location of four specimens buried in that place which were analyzed in search of bacterial and viral pathogens.
“What is more surprising is that in this early strain we already see more or less the complete genetic set of Yersinia pestis, with only a few genes missing. But even a small change in genetic makeup can have a dramatic influence on virulence ”, Krause-Kyora explained.
As detailed by the researchers, the bacterium had to go through different mutations to cause the black plague, and they have even doubted that the RV 2039 specimen had any symptoms related to this disease.
“We know that Yersinia pestis probably killed half the European population in a short period of time, so it should have a major impact on the human genome. But even before that, we see a major change in our immune genes at the end of the Neolithic Age, and it could be that there was also a significant change in the pathogen landscape at that time, ” Krause-Kyora concluded.