Zika virus

By analyzing genomes generated as part of the study, researchers confirmed that the Zika virus was present in affected countries well before the first confirmed cases were detected. (Image via Broad Institute)

An international team of scientists have charted the emergence and spread of the Zika virus in the Americas with the help of virus genomes. While the Zika outbreak attracted a lot of attention both inside and outside the scientific community, little is known about the evolution of the virus. Clinical samples of the virus contain little genomic information, which makes it more difficult to trace. In three new papers, scientists describe their learnings from over 200 sequenced Zika genomes obtained from infected humans and mosquitoes. Researchers charted the spread of the virus in continental United States, Brazil, as well as other South and Central American countries and the Caribbean. Additionally, all three teams came to the same conclusion: the virus circulated for months before the 2015-2016 infection cases were first detected.


Nathan D. Grubaugh, Jason T. Ladner, Moritz U. G. Kraemer, Gytis Dudas, Amanda L. Tan, Karthik Gangavarapu, Michael R. Wiley, Stephen White, Julien Thézé, Diogo M. Magnani, Karla Prieto, Daniel Reyes, Andrea M. Bingham, Lauren M. Paul, Refugio Robles-Sikisaka, Glenn Oliveira, Darryl Pronty, Carolyn M. Barcellona, Hayden C. Metsky, Mary Lynn Baniecki, Kayla G. Barnes, Bridget Chak, Catherine A. Freije, Adrianne Gladden-Young, Andreas Gnirke, Cynthia Luo, Bronwyn MacInnis, Christian B. Matranga, Daniel J. Park, James Qu, Stephen F. Schaffner, Christopher Tomkins-Tinch, Kendra L. West, Sarah M. Winnicki, Shirlee Wohl, Nathan L. Yozwiak, Joshua Quick, Joseph R. Fauver, Kamran Khan, Shannon E. Brent, Robert C. Reiner Jr, Paola N. Lichtenberger, Michael J. Ricciardi, Varian K. Bailey, David I. Watkins, Marshall R. Cone, Edgar W. Kopp IV, Kelly N. Hogan, Andrew C. Cannons, Reynald Jean, Andrew J. Monaghan, Robert F. Garry, Nicholas J. Loman, Nuno R. Faria, Mario C. Porcelli, Chalmers Vasquez, Elyse R. Nagle, Derek A. T. Cummings, Danielle Stanek, Andrew Rambaut, Mariano Sanchez-Lockhart, Pardis C. Sabeti, Leah D. Gillis, Scott F. Michael, Trevor Bedford, Oliver G. Pybus, Sharon Isern, Gustavo Palacios & Kristian G. Andersen

Canadian author (Andersen et al. paper):

Kamran Khan, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, & Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, ON, Email: KhanK@smh.ca

Original paper published in Nature on May 24, 2017.