Emergence and #Spread of Basal #Lineages of #Yersinia pestis during the #Neolithic Decline (Cell, abstract)

[Source: Cell, full page: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]

Emergence and Spread of Basal Lineages of Yersinia pestis during the Neolithic Decline

Nicolás Rascovan, Karl-Göran Sjögren 8, Kristian Kristiansen 8, Rasmus Nielsen, Eske Willerslev, Christelle Desnues, Simon Rasmussen 9, 10

Published: December 6, 2018 / DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2018.11.005



  • Discovery of the most ancient case of plague in humans, 4,900 years ago in Sweden
  • Basal lineages of Y. pestis emerged and spread during the Neolithic decline
  • Plague infections in distinct Eurasian populations during Neolithic and Bronze Age
  • A plague pandemic likely emerged in large settlements and spread over trade routes.



Between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago, many Neolithic societies declined throughout western Eurasia due to a combination of factors that are still largely debated. Here, we report the discovery and genome reconstruction of Yersinia pestis, the etiological agent of plague, in Neolithic farmers in Sweden, pre-dating and basal to all modern and ancient known strains of this pathogen. We investigated the history of this strain by combining phylogenetic and molecular clock analyses of the bacterial genome, detailed archaeological information, and genomic analyses from infected individuals and hundreds of ancient human samples across Eurasia. These analyses revealed that multiple and independent lineages of Y. pestis branched and expanded across Eurasia during the Neolithic decline, spreading most likely through early trade networks rather than massive human migrations. Our results are consistent with the existence of a prehistoric plague pandemic that likely contributed to the decay of Neolithic populations in Europe.

Keywords: Yersinia pestis – plague – ancient DNA – Neolithic decline – mega settlements – pathogen evolution – emergence and spread of infectious diseases – metagenomics

Keywords: Plague; Yersinia pestis; Pandemics.



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I am an Italian blogger, active since 2005 with main focus on emerging infectious diseases such as avian influenza, SARS, antibiotics resistance, and many other global Health issues. Other fields of interest are: climate change, global warming, geological and biological sciences. My activity consists mainly in collection and analysis of news, public services updates, confronting sources and making decision about what are the 'signals' of an impending crisis (an outbreak, for example). When a signal is detected, I follow traces during the entire course of an event. I started in 2005 my blog ''A TIME'S MEMORY'', now with more than 40,000 posts and 3 millions of web interactions. Subsequently I added an Italian Language blog, then discontinued because of very low traffic and interest. I contributed for seven years to a public forum (FluTrackers.com) in the midst of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014, I left the site to continue alone my data tracking job.

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