Yersinia pestis has caused three worldwide plagues in human history that have led to innumerable deaths. We have completely sequenced the genomes of two strains (D106004 and D182038) of Y. pestis isolated from Yunnan Province of China. The most striking finding of our study is that large amounts of genome rearrangement events exist between the genomes of two Yunnan strains despite being isolated from two foci only 50 kilometers apart. When we compared the genome sequences of the Yunnan strains with six strains (CO92, KIM, 91001, Antiqua, Nepal516, and Pestoides F) of Y. pestis sequenced previously, we found that the genomes of Y. pestis were divided into 61 relatively independent segments. Pairwise comparisons of all 61 segments among eight strains showed that the Yunnan strains were most closely related to strain CO92. We concluded that Y. pestis genomes consist of segments that can change their positions and directions within the genomes caused by genome rearrangements, and our study confirmed the inference that the third plague pandemic originated in Yunnan since the genome sequences of Yunnan strains were closest to the strain CO92 isolated from the United States.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Microbiology (medical)