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Science:中世纪的受害者揭开查士丁尼鼠疫的秘密

摘要 : 将近50年前,考古学家在德国南部小镇奥腾诺丁挖出了一具死于公元570年左右的年轻人的尸骨。

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将近50年前,考古学家在德国南部小镇奥腾诺丁挖出了一具死于公元570年左右的年轻人的尸骨。现在,从该男子的一颗牙齿中采集的DNA证实了先前研究人员的怀疑,即这个年轻人死于鼠疫,而且和他一同被埋葬年轻女子也是死于鼠疫。这两个人是查士丁尼鼠疫的受害者,这种疾病在公元6世纪和8世纪之间十多次袭击欧洲和地中海地区,夺走了多达5000万人的生命。研究人员已经能够拼凑出杀死该名男子的鼠疫杆菌的DNA序列。他们说,该菌株与20公里外发掘出的、来自同一时期的尸骨中所获得的、另一个经过测序的菌株样本是一样的。新测序出的序列对该菌株基因组的覆盖更广,研究人员今天在《分子生物学与进化》杂志上报告说,这让他们得以辨识影响细菌病毒力——即让人们生病的能力——的关键基因中的序列变化。新数据将或将有助于科学家们推断出这个毒害是如何从埃及传播到当今德国这么远的北部。它也可能帮助科学家更好地理解为什么该疾病似乎在大约8世纪末时欧洲和中东消失了,然后又“复仇”似的卷土重来,于14世纪以黑死病面貌再次出现在人们面前。

原文链接:

Medieval victim reveals secrets of the Plague of Justinian

原文摘要:

Nearly 50 years ago, archaeologists in the southern German town of Altenerding (pictured above) unearthed the bones of a young man who died sometime around 570 C.E. Now, DNA salvaged from one of the man’s teeth has confirmed the suspicion that he died of the plague—as did a young woman buried with him. The two were victims of the Plague of Justinian, which killed as many as 50 million people throughout Europe and the Mediterranean in more than a dozen waves between the 6th and the 8th centuries C.E. Researchers have now been able to piece together the DNA sequence of theYersinia pestis bacterium that killed the man. They say it belongs to the same strain as another sample sequenced from bones from the same era excavated about 20 kilometers away. The new sequence provides higher coverage of the genome, the researchers report today in Molecular Biology and Evolution, allowing them to identify sequence changes in key genes that affect the bacterium’s virulence—its ability to make people ill. The new data may help scientists piece together how the scourge spread from Egypt as far north as present-day Germany. It may also help scientists better understand why the disease seemingly disappeared from Europe and the Middle East toward the end of the 8th century, only to reappear with a vengeance in the Black Death of the 1300s.

来源: Science 浏览次数:0

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