Plague Journal Club

This journal club covers a wide-range of research related to the ecology and evolution of Yersinia pestis, including topics such as pathogen evolution, molecular bioanalysis of modern and ancient DNA, host-pathogen interactions, reservoir host and vector dynamics, and the epidemiology of plague in humans. The purpose of this journal club is to interpret leading-edge plague research, with a critical analysis of methodology and an emphasis on incorporating new findings into future work on the pathogen and the disease.

The Plague Journal Club is organized by Katharine Rose Dean and is scheduled to meet every two weeks on Mondays at 14:15 at CEES, Kristine Bonnevies hus.


Time and place: Jan. 16, 2017 3:15 PM - 4:15 PM, Room 3315

The earliest documented plague pandemic in Europe, the Plague of Justinian, occurred in the 6th century. However, a recent study by Rasmussen et al. (2015) found plague in Eurasian individuals from the Bronze Age, suggesting that plague was in Europe before the first recorded pandemics. In this journal club, we will discuss a paper by Valtuena, et al. (2016) that presents additional prehistoric Y. pestis genomes.

Time and place: Oct. 31, 2016 2:15 PM - 3:15 PM, Room 3315

Diseases can induce detectible genetic changes in host populations by exerting infectious pressure. It has been hypothesized that past plague pandemics have shaped susceptibility to infections in modern European populations. In this journal club, we will discuss immune pathways that have been shaped by convergent evolution in European and Rroma populations in response to plague and other infections.

Time and place: Sep. 26, 2016 2:15 PM - 3:15 PM, Room 3315

The study of ancient DNA sequences from Yersinia pestis has yielded important insights into the ecology and evolution of this important human pathogen. However, the analysis and interpretation of ancient DNA data remains challenging compared with modern data. Here, we will discuss two recent papers with new or improved genomes from First and Second Pandemic victims.

Time and place: Sep. 12, 2016 2:15 PM - 3:15 PM, Room 3315

No reading required! We will be watching a video lecture by Bruce M.S. Campbell, author of "The Great Transition: Climate, Disease, and Society in the Late-Medieval World," where he discusses how changes in climate, the economy, and warfare contributed to the onset and severity of plague epidemics in Medieval Europe.

Time and place: Aug. 29, 2016 3:15 PM - 4:15 PM, Room 3315

This journal club we will be discussing conflicting studies on two virulence factors that are important for the Yersinia genus, invasin and YadA.

Time and place: Aug. 15, 2016 3:15 PM - 4:15 PM, Room 3315

The recent emergence of plague, Yersinia pestis, as a flea-borne pathogen in the last 3,000-6,000 years provides a compelling example of how evolutionary changes can lead to a new bacterial pathogen. We will discuss the recent review, "Ecological opportunity, Evolution, and the Emergence of Flea-borne Plague," by Hinnebusch et. al., about Y. pestis and the closely related enteric pathogen, Y. psuedotuberculosis.

Time and place: July 4, 2016 3:15 PM - 4:15 PM, Room 3315

Historical records can provide useful insights into the epidemiology and transmission dynamics of infectious diseases of the past. We will discuss the recently published paper, "Epidemiological analysis of the Eyam plague outbreak of 1665-1666," by L.K. Whittles and X. Didelot, where they used parish records to study the transmission mode and seasonality of plague during a well-known epidemic.