A drawing of a plague doctor in the 1700s, wearing a long robed costume with a snout in front of the nose to purify the air. Also shown is a caricature of the same outfit.
An illustration and a caricature of the outfit worn by plague doctors in the 18th century.

Genomics and the plague

Many of you will have heard of the Black Death, it was one of the biggest pandemics in human history and it was caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Amazingly, we can detect and sequence whole genomes of ancient DNA from the graves of the victims, which enables us to understand the transmission of bacteria 1000s of years ago. The video below describes the recent discovery of suspected plague victim remains during the building of a new train line in London.

http://www.crossrail.co.uk/news/articles/dna-of-bacteria-responsible-for-london-great-plague-of-1665-identified-for-first-time © Copyright Crossrail Limited 2016 http://www.crossrail.co.uk/

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Bacterial Genomes: Disease Outbreaks and Antimicrobial Resistance

Wellcome Genome Campus Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences