Bayesian inference of the evolution of HBV/E.
- Clinical and Applied Virology
Despite its wide spread and high prevalence in sub-Saharan Africa, hepatitis B virus genotype E (HBV/E) has a surprisingly low genetic diversity, indicating an only recent emergence of this genotype in the general African population. Here, we performed extensive phylogeographic analyses, including Bayesian MCMC modeling. Our results indicate a mutation rate of 1.9 x 10(-4) substitutions per site and year (s/s/y) and confirm a recent emergence of HBV/E, most likely within the last 130 years, and only after the transatlantic slave-trade had come to an end. Our analyses suggest that HBV/E originated from the area of Nigeria, before rapidly spreading throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Interestingly, viral strains found in Haiti seem to be the result of multiple introductions only in the second half of the 20th century, corroborating an absence of a significant number of HBV/E strains in West Africa several centuries ago. Our results confirm that the hyperendemicity of HBV(E) in today's Africa is a recent phenomenon and likely the result of dramatic changes in the routes of viral transmission in a relatively recent past.