A genomic and historical synthesis of plague in 18th century Eurasia

Meriam Guellil, Oliver Kersten, Amine Namouchi, Stefania Luciani, Isolina Marota, Caroline A. Arcini, Elisabeth Iregren, Robert A. Lindemann, Gunnar Warfvinge, Lela Bakanidze, Lia Bitadze, Mauro Rubini, Paola Zaio, Monica Zaio, Damiano Neri, N. C. Stenseth, Barbara Bramanti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Plague continued to afflict Europe for more than five centuries after the Black Death. Yet, by the 17th century, the dynamics of plague had changed, leading to its slow decline in Western Europe over the subsequent 200 y, a period for which only one genome was previously available. Using a multidisciplinary approach, combining genomic and historical data, we assembled Y. pestis genomes from nine individuals covering four Eurasian sites and placed them into an historical context within the established phylogeny. CHE1 (Chechnya, Russia, 18th century) is now the latest Second Plague Pandemic genome and the first non-European sample in the post-Black Death lineage. Its placement in the phylogeny and our synthesis point toward the existence of an extra-European reservoir feeding plague into Western Europe in multiple waves. By considering socioeconomic, ecological, and climatic factors we highlight the importance of a noneurocentric approach for the discussion on Second Plague Pandemic dynamics in Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28328-28335
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number45
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • History and Archaeology

Free keywords

  • Yersinia pestis | ancient DNA | aDNA | pathogen | plague


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