Fleshing out Yersinia pestis

by Michelle Ziegler Up until a few months ago there were a few representative samples of the Yersinia pestis genome. Important windows into its secrets, but windows none the less. In January a Chinese group remedied this situation by expanding the number of fully sequenced genomes from 15 to 133 (Cui et al, 2013). ¬†China... Continue Reading →

Toward a Molecular History of Yersinia pestis (AHA)

This post a resource for the presentation I gave at the AHA meeting in New Orleans on January 5, 2013. A color handout of the slides can be downloaded here. This map will be continually updated as new finds are published. Some of the balloons mark sites with multiple studies. Click on the balloons for... Continue Reading →

Remodeling the Plague Phylogenetic Tree

Understanding the molecular history of any organism requires fitting together ancient DNA with the phylogenetic tree constructed with living exemplars. Constructing a bacterial phylogenetic tree is a snapshot of a moving target because its impossible to sample all of the strains.¬† A recent study by the East Smithfield group ( Bos et al, 2012 [2])... Continue Reading →

Insights from Plague Genomics, Part 1: The Chromosome

Most of the news lately has been about the plague phylogenetic tree produced by looking at single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). The plague tree is remarkably simple and can lead to the mistaken impression that the rest of plague genomics are/will be simple. Michel Drancourt has recently compiled an array of genomic information that shows that... Continue Reading →

Achtman on Plague Evolution

Mark Achtman who led the international team that assembled the phylogenetic tree for Yersinia pestis participated in a Royal Society meeting on 'Immunity, infection, migration and human evolution' in June 2011. Achtman's contribution placed plague evolution within the context of other 'monomorphic' pathogens. Here are some of my notes from his published contribution: Monomorphic pathogens... Continue Reading →

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