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Following our recent report of high levels of recombination and geographic structuring amongst isolates from two populations, we have investigated global patterns of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) molecular diversity using population samples from six countries in Europe, Asia and Africa. Sequence comparisons show that HSV-1 from Kenya is both highly diverse and distinct from either European or Asian HSV-1. HSV-1 populations are much more highly differentiated than human populations at the same geographic scales, with 35% of total variation at the level of inter-population comparisons, a difference likely to be due to higher rates of both mutation and genetic drift in HSV-1 than in equivalent human data. There is substantial differentiation between northwestern European HSV-1 populations and those from East Asia, and while patterns of British and Swedish HSV-1 variation were indistinguishable, differentiation was detectable amongst Chinese, Korean and Japanese HSV-1 samples, in spite of their lower overall diversity. The program Structure was used to reconstruct ancestral Eurasian lineages, which we estimated to have originated approximately 60,000 years ago. A specific pattern detected amongst East Asian HSV-1 isolates is currently best explained by the two waves of migration responsible for the peopling of Japan.

Original publication




Journal article


Infect Genet Evol

Publication Date





63 - 74


Afghanistan, Asia, Emigration and Immigration, Ethnic Groups, Europe, Eastern, Genetic Variation, Genetics, Population, Geography, Herpesvirus 1, Human, Humans, Models, Genetic, Molecular Sequence Data