How small genetic change in Yersinia pestis changed human history

30 junio 2015

While studying Yersinia pestis, the bacteria responsible for epidemics of plague such as the Black Death, scientists found a single small genetic change that fundamentally influenced the evolution of the deadly pathogen, and thus the course of human history. They demonstrated how the acquisition of a single gene caused the shift of Y. pestis from causing a primarily gastrointestinal infection to a more serious and often fatal respiratory disease and how later modifications lead to infections associated with the bubonic plague.