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Defining Feature 4: DNA Of Yersinia Pestis From Plague Graves

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Chapter Summary

Identification of the microbiological agent of historical plague epidemics can be achieved by reclamation of genetic material or specific proteins of plague contagion taken from human remains in historical plague graves. In 1998 a team of French scholars, M. Drancourt, G. Aboudharam, M. Signoli, O. Dutour and D. Raoult, published a study of DNA recovered in dental pulp taken from unerupted teeth extracted from individualized skeletal remains excavated from two mass graves of plague victims in Provence. The consistent identification of Yersinia pestis constitutes therefore substantial evidence to the effect that bubonic plague spread in epidemic form in southern France in the period 1347-1722 covering the whole second plague pandemic from the Black Death to the last great epidemic. The identification of the DNA of the ordinary biovar of bubonic plague in dental pulp from a plague grave in London dating back to the Black Death holds important implications.

Keywords: Black Death; dental pulp; M.Drancourt; plague grave; Yersinia Pestis



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