Skip main navigation

£199.99 £139.99 for one year of Unlimited learning. Offer ends on 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply

Find out more

Genomics and the plague

Genomics and the plague: the Black Death and how the genomes of ancient DNA from victim's graves can still be used to track past disease transmission.
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.
© Wellcome Genome Campus Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences

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. © Copyright Crossrail Limited 2016

© Wellcome Genome Campus Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences
This article is from the free online

Bacterial Genomes: Disease Outbreaks and Antimicrobial Resistance

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education