By the same authors

Palaeogenomic analysis of black rat (Rattus rattus) reveals multiple European introductions associated with human economic history

Research output: Working paper

Published copy (DOI)


  • He Yu
  • Alexandra Jamieson
  • Ardern Hulme-Beaman
  • Chris J. Conroy
  • Becky Knight
  • Hiba Al-Jarah
  • Heidi Eager
  • Alexandra Trinks
  • Gamini Adikari
  • Henriette Baron
  • Beate Böhlendorf-Arslan
  • Wijerathne Bohingamuwa
  • Alison Crowther
  • Thomas Cucchi
  • Kinie Esser
  • Jeffrey Fleisher
  • Louisa Gidney
  • Elena Gladilina
  • Pavel Gol’din
  • Steven M. Goodman
  • Sheila Hamilton-Dyer
  • Richard Helm
  • Chris Hillman
  • Nabil Kallala
  • Hanna Kivikero
  • Zsófia E. Kovács
  • Günther Karl Kunst
  • René Kyselý
  • Anna Linderholm
  • Bouthéina Maraoui-Telmini
  • Arturo Morales-Muñiz
  • Mariana Nabais
  • Terry O’Connor
  • Tarek Oueslati
  • Eréndira M. Quintana Morales
  • Kerstin Pasda
  • Jude Perera
  • Nimal Perera
  • Silvia Radbauer
  • Joan Ramon
  • Eve Rannamäe
  • Joan Sanmarti Grego
  • Edward Treasure
  • Silvia Valenzuela-Lamas
  • Inge van der Jagt
  • Wim Van Neer
  • Jean-Denis Vigne
  • Thomas Walker
  • Jørn Zeiler
  • Keith Dobney
  • Nicole Boivin
  • Jeremy B. Searle
  • Ben Krause-Kyora
  • Johannes Krause
  • Greger Larson


Publication details

DatePublished - 14 Apr 2021
Original languageEnglish

Publication series

PublisherCold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press


The distribution of the black rat (Rattus rattus) has been heavily influenced by its association with humans. The dispersal history of this non-native commensal rodent across Europe, however, remains poorly understood, and different introductions may have occurred during the Roman and medieval periods. Here, in order to reconstruct the population history of European black rats, we generated a de novo genome assembly of the black rat, 67 ancient black rat mitogenomes and 36 ancient nuclear genomes from sites spanning the 1st-17th centuries CE in Europe and North Africa. Analyses of mitochondrial DNA confirm that black rats were introduced into the Mediterranean and Europe from Southwest Asia. Genomic analyses of the ancient rats reveal a population turnover in temperate Europe between the 6th and 10th centuries CE, coincident with an archaeologically attested decline in the black rat population. The near disappearance and re-emergence of black rats in Europe may have been the result of the breakdown of the Roman Empire, the First Plague Pandemic, and/or post-Roman climatic cooling.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.

    Research areas

  • rodent, commensal, phylogeography, synanthropic



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