Johannes Krause (born July 17, 1980 in Leinefelde) is a German biochemist with a research focus on historical infectious diseases and human evolution. Since 2010, he has been professor of archaeology and paleogenetics at the University of Tübingen. In 2014, Krause was named co-director of the new Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena.
From 2000 to 2005, Krause studied biochemistry in Leipzig and at the University College Cork in Ireland. In 2005 he obtained his diploma with the publication The mitochondrial genome of the woolly mammoth at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, followed by a doctoral dissertation in 2008 under Svante Pääbo entitled From genes to genomes: Applications for multiplex PCR in Ancient DNA Research regarding genetic investigations into Neanderthals and cave bears.
In 2010, for his doctoral thesis he was awarded the Tübingen Award for Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology. The same year, for his co-authorship of the Science article A draft sequence and preliminary analysis of the Neandertal genome he received the Newcomb Cleveland Prize of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the prize for the best article of the year. In October 2010, he became a junior professor at the Institute of Scientific Archaeology in Tübingen. Since then he has headed the working group on paleogenetics at the Institute.
In the summer of 2014, it was announced that the Max Planck Institute of Economics in Jena would receive a different mandate. Along with Russell Gray, Krause was appointed co-director of a new Max Planck Institute of History and the Sciences, starting February 1, 2014. At the same time Krause remains an Honorary Professor at the University of Tübingen.
Krause's focus is genetic analysis using DNA sequencing. His research interests include historical pathogens and epidemics and human evolution.
In 2010, Krause and others successfully reconstructed the mitochondrial DNA of a Denisovan individual from 30 milligrams of powdered material from a finger bone. This enabled him to demonstrate that the Denisovans represented an independent branch of the genus Homo which diverged from the Neanderthal lineage 640,000 years ago. He also contributed to research in the genetic heritage of Neanderthals, which demonstrated that Neanderthals and modern humans share the same "language gene" (FOXP2) which suggests Neanderthals also had the capacity to speak.
Krause was part of the international research team which in 2011 reconstructed the genome of the bacterium Yersinia pestis from DNA samples extracted from the 14th-century East Smithfield plague cemetery in London, establishing definitive proof that the medieval Black Death epidemic was caused by Y. pestis.
In June 2013, Krause's group in collaboration with the Institute of Technology Lausanne published research showing that the leprosy bacterium has not changed genetically since the Middle Ages and all leprosy bacteria can be attributed worldwide to a common ancestor dating to 4000 BC.
In 2017, a team lead by Krause performed the first reliable sequencing of the genomes of mummified individuals from Ancient Egypt. However, by the team's own admission in the manuscript, the samples may not have been representative of the majority of Egyptians, especially dynasties predating invasions by Eurasians. Previous haplotype and PCR DNA findings indicated Sub-Saharan African origin. Their study looked at 90 individuals and revealed that they "closely resembled ancient and modern Near Eastern populations, especially those in the Levant, and had almost no DNA from sub-Saharan Africa. What's more, the genetics of the mummies remained remarkably consistent even as different powers—including Nubians, Greeks, and Romans—conquered the empire.