Genome sequenced from the teeth of victims of black death reveals the origin of the disease

Between 1338 and 1339, a woman named Bachak, only 1.42 meters tall, died at the age of 40 and was buried in the Karajgach Cemetery, 11 km from Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. She was one of 114 people buried there within two years and died as a result of plague, which could be one of the precursors to the infection.

Her inscription, “Faithful Woman,” was written in the Aramaic dialect of Syriac. Her tombstone in Bačaq does not describe the cause of her death, but other tombs in 1338 and 1339 contain this information called mawtānā (plague, plague, or plague). The 114 deaths account for a quarter of all burials in the cemetery that operated from 1245 to 1345.

An inscription on one of the people killed by the plague in the graveyard. “This is the tomb of Sanmaq followers. [Ele] He died of a plague. (Image: AS Leybin / public domain)

Plague sequence

Bachak’s teeth, along with the teeth of a woman buried nearby, provide genomic evidence of what researchers believe to be the ancestral strain of the bacterium. Yersinia pestisCauses of the 14th-century plague pandemic, etc .: Articles on this incident indicate that the region was the source of plague, killing an estimated 30% to 60% of Europe’s total population over the years. Suggesting age.

Many parts of Asia are one of the proposed sources of the second pandemic plague. The first area is the plague of Justinian I in the 6th century, which is also the cause of bubonic plague. So far, virtually all genetic and historical data are from Europe, giving a view of Europe-centric events. The new study is examining the only archaeological evidence outside Eurasia and Europe.

The bodies of five women and two men from the cemeteries of the nearby villages Karajgach and Brana were excavated by archaeologist Nikolai Pantusov at the end of the 19th century, and the skulls of the dead are kept at the Peter’s Museum. I did. Bachelor of Anthropology and Ethnology in St. Petersburg (Kunstcamera, Russia’s first museum).

Archaeological excavation at the Karajgach archaeological site at the foot of the Tianshan Mountains in the Chu Valley of Kyrgyzstan from 1885 to 1892 (Image: AS Rabin / Public Domain)
Archaeological excavation at the Karajgach archaeological site at the foot of the Tianshan Mountains in the Chu Valley of Kyrgyzstan from 1885 to 1892 (Image: AS Rabin / Public Domain)

Genome Yersinia pestis Collected from the bones of the two women studied were sequenced and found to be identical and compared to the genomes of 203 modern strains and 47 historic species. The strains found appear to be the ancestors of the strains that evolved during the Black Death in connection with the onset of this second pandemic. The same strain was found in the remains of victims of plague in Europe and is still found in less toxic form today.

Origin of plague

Strains taken from the body resemble modern strains present in animals in the region, and scientists say that when the bacterium jumps out of a rodent host (probably a marmot), the border between Kyrgystan and China. It suggests that it occurred in a nearby mountainous area called Tianshan in. To humans.

Genome analysis of seven people in the cemetery showed similarities to the modern Eurasian population, but different items from different locations in the cemetery originate from China, Mongolia, and Armenia. It shows geographical diversity. This shows how trade routes connected the areas dominated by the Mongols at the time.

Bubo caused by bubonic plague on the victim's leg (Image: CDC / public domain)
Bubo caused by bubonic plague on the victim’s leg (Image: CDC / public domain)

Balasagun, the closest village to the Brana Cemetery, was the economic, political and cultural center of Central Asia along the Silk Road. Intercontinental trade played a major role in the plague epidemic, as evidenced by the location of the cemetery, but the conclusions of this study raise the question of why the disease did not spread to East Asia. increase.

This study was published in a scientific journal this Wednesday (15). Nature..

Source: Nature

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