Evidence of increasing diversification of Zika virus strains isolated in the American continent

Aldunate F, Gámbaro F, Fajardo A, Soñora M, Cristina J

10.1002/jmv.24910 28/09/2017

PMID: 28792064


Zika virus (ZIKV) is a member of the family Flaviviridae. ZIKV emerged in Brazil in 2015, causing an unprecedented epidemic and since then the virus has rapidly spread throughout the Americas. These facts highlight the need of detailed phylogenetic studies to understand the emergence, spread, and evolution of ZIKV populations. For these reasons, a Bayesian coalescent Markov Chain Monte Carlo analysis of complete genome sequences of ZIKV strains recently isolated in the American continent was performed. The results of these studies revealed an increasing diversification of ZIKV strains in different genetic lineages and co-circulation of distinct genetic lineages in several countries in the region. The time of the most recent common ancestor (tMRCA) was established to be around February 20, 2014 for ZIKV strains circulating in the American region. A mean rate of evolution of 1.55 × 10-3 substitutions/site/year was obtained for ZIKV strains included in this study. A Bayesian skyline plot indicate a sharp increase in population size from February 2014 to July 2015 and a decline during 2016. These results are discussed in terms of the emergence and evolution of ZIKV populations in the American continent.

Keywords: Bayesian; Zika; coalescent; evolution.