Assistant professor Dr Jessica Brinkworth has co-authored an article in the journal Nature on the evolution of immune genes associated with infectious diseases, especially the second pandemic of the plague, known as Black Death. The pandemic constitutes the greatest mortality event recorded in human history, killing 30-50% of the population in Africa and Eurasia. The study explores how infectious diseases drive natural selection and evolution. By studying the 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 study identified 245 highly differentiated variants related to the pandemic. The study highlights the role that past pandemics play in contemporary susceptibility to disease.
It is available here.