About the cover
The latest DNA recovery and sequencing technologies have been used to reconstruct the genome of the Yersinia pestis bacterium responsible for the Black Death pandemic of bubonic plague that spread across Europe in the fourteenth century. The genome was pieced together from total DNA extracted from the skeletal remains of four individuals excavated from a large cemetery on the site of the Royal Mint in East Smithfield in London, where more than 2,000 plague victims were buried in 1348 and 1349. The draft genome sequence does not differ substantially from modern Y. pestis strains, providing no answer to the question of why the Black Death was more deadly than modern bubonic plague outbreaks. On the cover, the excavation at the site of the old Royal Mint, 1987 (Rex Features).