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Tracing pathogens through time with ancient DNA

Tuesday, July 14th at 12pm ET

Join us for a conversation with 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 will look 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 will discuss our latest genomic data from early modern Europe revealing a more complex pattern in the geographical distribution of early treponemal diseases than previously understood. Background information can be found in the preprint, “Ancient bacterial genomes reveal a formerly unknown diversity of Treponema pallidum strains in early modern Europe” and Schuenemann et al. 2018, “Historic Treponema pallidum genomes from Colonial Mexico retrieved from archaeological remains.” Sign up here for the meeting link.