This conversation was led by Verena Schuenemann, Assistant Professor for Paleogenetics at the University of Zurich. In the last decade, groundbreaking advances in the field of ancient DNA research have revolutionized our understanding of pathogen evolution as we can now trace back evolutionary dynamics of pathogens throughout historical times. Here, we looked at the evolutionary history of Treponema pallidum (causative agent of syphilis and other treponemal diseases), a pathogen with highly debated origins and dispersal routes. We discussed our latest genomic data from early modern Europe revealing a more complex pattern in the geographical distribution of early treponemal diseases than previously understood.
- Majander et al. preprint, “Ancient bacterial genomes reveal a formerly unknown diversity of Treponema pallidum strains in early modern Europe“
- Schuenemann et al. 2018, “Historic Treponema pallidum genomes from Colonial Mexico retrieved from archaeological remains“