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Abstract

Extraction of the genetic material of the causative organism of plague, Yersinia pestis, from the remains of persons who died during the Black Death has confirmed that pathogen’s role in one of the largest pandemics of human history. This then opens up historical research to investigations based on modern science, which has studied Yersinia pestis from a variety of perspectives, most importantly its evolutionary history and its complex ecology of transmission. The contributors to this special issue argue for the benefits of a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach to the many remaining mysteries associated with the plague’s geographical extent, rapid transmission, deadly outcomes, and persistence.