June 2019

Scientists Decode Genome of the Bacteria that Caused the Justinian Plague

An international team of researchers led by the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History analyzed the remains of 21 victims from burials across Austria, Britain, France, Germany and Spain, and reconstructed eight plague genomes to find out the bacteria evolved

The Justinian Plague lasted from 541 to 750 CE. This was the first plague pandemic and public health crisis which wiped out close to 100 million people in Asia, Africa and Europe in just 5 years. The culprit: yersinia pestis - the bacteria responsible for this pandemic and all plague pandemics since.