skip to main content

Investigating the history and evolution of plague through ancient genomics

01.02.2024 12:30 pm 2:00 pm Joint Microbiological Colloquium Maria Spyrou

Speaker: Maria Spyrou (University of Tübingen/MPI for Evolutionary Anthropology)

Host: Andreas Peschel

Date & Time: 01.02.2024  | 12:30 – 2 p.m.

Venue:  Lecture hall 3M07, GUZ

Public event. No registration needed.



In recent years, rapid methodological advancements in the field of ancient DNA have enabled the generation of temporal transects of microbial diversity and have paved the way for studying human-pathogen interactions, from an evolutionary and sociocultural perspective, even earlier than the written historical record. At present, the most extensively studied ancient pathogen is the zoonotic bacterium Yersinia pestis, the causative agent of plague. This presentation will concentrate on how metagenomic studies and the generation of ancient pathogen genomes have transformed our understanding of the evolution and history of plague. The increasing availability of ancient Y. pestis datasets has afforded insights into the bacterium’s early evolution, as well as the emergence and progression of historical pandemics, offering perspectives on past genetic diversity and its role in shaping both extinct and still surviving disease reservoirs worldwide. Ultimately, the case of Y. pestis shows how ongoing interdisciplinary efforts can help unravel the processes that have shaped the contemporary landscape of infectious diseases. In this capacity, they provide a framework for examining the diachronic challenges that pathogens have continuously posed on human societies.

All Colloquium Dates