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Genome Study Yields New Date for Arrival of TB in Europe

Monday, August 17, 2020

Bishop Peder WinstrupJENA, GERMANY—According to a statement released by the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, an international team of researchers obtained a sample of the bacterium that causes tuberculosis from the well-preserved lungs of Bishop Peder Winstrup of Lund, Sweden, who died in 1679, during an outbreak known as the “White Plague.” It had been previously thought that tuberculosis evolved early in human history because it is so widespread among human populations, but analysis of the genome of this Mycobacterium tuberculosis sample, when combined with its known date and other tuberculosis genomes, indicates that the disease emerged just 6,000 years ago, during Europe’s Neolithic period. Team member Denise Kühnert said that the rise of pastoralism and more sedentary lifestyles may have contributed to the emergence of the pathogen. To read more about the spread of TB, go to "Across the Atlantic by Flipper."

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