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Gorilla herpes simplexvirus phylogenetic analysis


Wertheim, Joel (2021), Gorilla herpes simplexvirus phylogenetic analysis, Dryad, Dataset,


Viruses closely related to human pathogens can reveal the origins of human infectious diseases. Human herpes simplexvirus type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2) are hypothesized to have arisen via host-virus co-divergence and cross-species transmission. We report the discovery of novel herpes simplexviruses during a large-scale screening of fecal samples from wild gorillas, bonobos, and chimpanzees. Phylogenetic analysis indicates that, contrary to expectation, simplexviruses from these African apes are all more closely related to HSV-2 than to HSV-1. Molecular clock-based hypothesis testing suggests the divergence between HSV-1 and the African great ape simplexviruses likely represents a codivergence event between humans and gorillas. The simplexviruses infecting African great apes subsequently experienced multiple cross-species transmission events over the past 3 million years, the most recent of which occurred between humans and bonobos around 1 million years ago. These findings revise our understanding of the origins of human herpes simplexviruses and suggest that HSV-2 is one of the earliest zoonotic pathogens.


National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Award: R01AI135992

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Award: R21AI115701

Pan African Programme