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A treponemal genome from an historic plague victim supports a recent emergence of yaws and its presence in 15th century Europe

MPS-Authors
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Giffin,  Karen
Archaeogenetics, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Lankapalli,  Aditya Kumar
Archaeogenetics, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Sabin,  Susanna
Archaeogenetics, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Spyrou,  Maria A.
Archaeogenetics, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Posth,  Cosimo
Archaeogenetics, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Herbig,  Alexander
Archaeogenetics, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Bos,  Kirsten I.
CoDisEASe, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Giffin, K., Lankapalli, A. K., Sabin, S., Spyrou, M. A., Posth, C., Kozakaitė, J., et al. (2020). A treponemal genome from an historic plague victim supports a recent emergence of yaws and its presence in 15th century Europe. Scientific Reports, 10(1): 9499. doi:10.1038/s41598-020-66012-x.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-92A4-B
Abstract
Developments in techniques for identification of pathogen DNA in archaeological samples can expand our resolution of disease detection. Our application of a non-targeted molecular screening tool for the parallel detection of pathogens in historical plague victims from post-medieval Lithuania revealed the presence of more than one active disease in one individual. In addition to Yersinia pestis, we detected and genomically characterized a septic infection of Treponema pallidum pertenue, a subtype of the treponemal disease family recognised as the cause of the tropical disease yaws. Our finding in northern Europe of a disease that is currently restricted to equatorial regions is interpreted within an historical framework of intercontinental trade and potential disease movements. Through this we offer an alternative hypothesis for the history and evolution of the treponemal diseases, and posit that yaws be considered an important contributor to the sudden epidemic of late 15th century Europe that is widely ascribed to syphilis.