Evolution of immune genes is associated with the Black Death
Dr. Julia Gamble, along with a number of international collaborators, has recently published an article in "Nature".
Infectious diseases are among the strongest selective pressures driving human evolution. This includes the single greatest mortality event in recorded history, the first outbreak of the second pandemic of plague, commonly called the Black Death. To identify loci that may have been under selection during the Black Death, we characterized genetic variation around immune-related genes from 206 ancient DNA extracts, stemming from two different European populations before, during and after the Black Death. The research provides empirical evidence for the role played by past pandemics in shaping present-day susceptibility to disease.