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Plague bug not so fierce after all

DNA analysis shows bacterium was fairly ordinary but thrived in pestilent conditions of medieval Europe

By
10:45am, October 14, 2011

Using methods that seem inspired by Frankenstein and Jurassic Park, scientists have reconstructed the entire DNA sequence of the ancient microbe responsible for the Black Death, the plague that killed half of Europe’s population between 1347 and 1351.

Using bits of the bacterium Yersinia pestis plucked from the teeth of four well-preserved skeletons of plague victims excavated from London’s East Smithfield cemetery in the 1980s, an international team of researchers found that the medieval microbe has nearly the same genetic code as modern s

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