Yersinia pestis and Plague: Some Knowns and Unknowns

Ruifu Yang, Steve Atkinson, Ziqi Chen, Yujun Cui, Zongmin Du, Yanping Han, Florent Sebbane, Philip Slavin, Yajun Song, Yanfeng Yan, Yarong Wu, Lei Xu, Chutian Zhang, Yun Zhang, B. Joseph Hinnebusch, Nils Chr Stenseth, Vladimir L. Motin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Since its first identification in 1894 during the third pandemic in Hong Kong, there has been significant progress in understanding the lifestyle of Yersinia pestis, the pathogen that is responsible for plague. Although we now have some understanding of the pathogen’s physiology, genetics, genomics, evolution, gene regulation, pathogenesis and immunity, there are many unknown aspects of the pathogen and its disease development. Here, we focus on some of the knowns and unknowns related to Y. pestis and plague. We notably focus on some key Y. pestis physiologic and virulence traits that are important for its mammal-flea-mammal life cycle, but also its emergence from the enteropathogen, Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. Some aspects of the genetic diversity of Y. pestis, the distribution and ecology of plague, as well as the medical countermeasures to protect our population are also provided. Lastly, we present some biosafety and biosecurity information related to Y. pestis and plague.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5
JournalZoonoses (Ireland)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 3 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • bioterrorism
  • diagnostic
  • evolution
  • immunity
  • pathogenesis
  • physiology
  • plague
  • treatment
  • vaccine
  • Yersinia pestis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • veterinary (miscalleneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Yersinia pestis and Plague: Some Knowns and Unknowns'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this