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Ecological aspects of the origin of Yersinia pestis, causative agent of the plague: Concept of intermediate environment

Abstract

Modern phylogenies of Yersinia pestis (Logh.), causative agent of the plague, constructed using molecular-genetic methods, do not receive a satisfactory functional and adaptive interpretation and are far from being ecologically valid. We have presented an ecological scenario of the origin of the causative agent of the plague through the transition of the initial pseudotuberculosis microbe Yersinia pseudotuberculosis O:1b to a free hostal ecological niche (and a new adaptive zone) under ultracontinental climatic conditions of the Late Pleistocene (Sartan time, 22000–15000 years ago) in southern Siberia and Central Asia. An intermediate environment, i.e., the “Mongolian marmot Marmota sibirica-flea Oropsylla silatiewi” parasitic system, where the process of adaptation development of the plague microbe took place, has been characterized. A scenario based on the major principles of the modern synthetic theory of evolution opens the way to an ecological-genetic synthesis of the problem of plague origin and is an appropriate model for developing a theory of molecular evolution of pathogenic (plaguelike) microorganisms.

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Correspondence to V. V. Suntsov.

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Original Russian Text © V.V. Suntsov, 2014, published in Sibirskii Ekologicheskii Zhurnal, 2014, No. 1, pp. 3–16.

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Suntsov, V.V. Ecological aspects of the origin of Yersinia pestis, causative agent of the plague: Concept of intermediate environment. Contemp. Probl. Ecol. 7, 1–11 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1134/S1995425514010144

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Keywords

  • origin of the causative agent of the plague
  • Late Pleistocene
  • Yersinia pseudotuberculosis
  • Y. pestis
  • ecological niche
  • intermediate environment
  • Marmota sibirica
  • Oropsylla silantiewi