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Ancient human parvovirus B19 in Eurasia reveals its long-term association with humans

Journal article
Authors B. Muhlemann
A. Margaryan
P. D. Damgaard
M. E. Allentoft
L. Vinner
A. J. Hansen
A. Weber
V. I. Bazaliiskii
M. Molak
J. Arneborg
W. Bogdanowicz
C. Falys
M. Sablin
V. Smrcka
S. Sten
K. Tashbaeva
N. Lynnerup
M. Sikora
D. J. Smith
R. A. M. Fouchier
C. Drosten
Karl-Göran Sjögren
Kristian Kristiansen
E. Willerslev
T. C. Jones
Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume 115
Issue 29
Pages 7557-7562
ISSN 0027-8424
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Historical Studies
Pages 7557-7562
Language en
Keywords parvovirus B19, ancient DNA, virus evolution, paleo virology, virology, genetic diversity, dna, persistence, identification, erythrovirus, evolution, viruses, genomes, genotype-1, history, Science & Technology - Other Topics, apman ms, 1995, structure, v3, p151
Subject categories History


Human parvovirus B19 (B19V) is a ubiquitous human pathogen associated with a number of conditions, such as fifth disease in children and arthritis and arthralgias in adults. B19V is thought to evolve exceptionally rapidly among DNA viruses, with substitution rates previously estimated to be closer to those typical of RNA viruses. On the basis of genetic sequences up to similar to 70 years of age, the most recent common ancestor of all B19V has been dated to the early 1800s, and it has been suggested that genotype 1, the most common B19V genotype, only started circulating in the 1960s. Here we present 10 genomes (63.9-99.7% genome coverage) of B19V from dental and skeletal remains of individuals who lived in Eurasia and Greenland from similar to 0.5 to similar to 6.9 thousand years ago (kya). In a phylogenetic analysis, five of the ancient B19V sequences fall within or basal to the modern genotype 1, and five fall basal to genotype 2, showing a long-term association of B19V with humans. The most recent common ancestor of all B19V is placed similar to 12.6 kya, and we find a substitution rate that is an order of magnitude lower than inferred previously. Further, we are able to date the recombination event between genotypes 1 and 3 that formed genotype 2 to similar to 5.0-6.8 kya. This study emphasizes the importance of ancient viral sequences for our understanding of virus evolution and phylogenetics.

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