Ten Millennia of Hepatitis B Virus Evolution

Under the leadership of a group of scientists from the Max Planck Institute, An international research group, including Prof. Dr. Yılmaz Selim Erdal from Hacettepe University Department of Anthropology, analyzed the genome of the Hepatitis B virus obtained from 137 ancient individuals, including samples from Turkey. The data obtained were published in the issue of Science magazine dated 8 October 2021 with an article titled “Ten millennia of hepatitis B virus evolution”.

Hepatitis B, which has been infecting people for thousands of years, was not well known in the past. Ancient genome data of 137 Eurasian and Native American Hepatitis B microbes dated ~10,500 to ~400 years ago, including specimens from Turkey, were created. Analyzes showed that the most recent common ancestor of the Hepatitis B lineages in Europe and South America was from 20,000 to ~12,000 years ago, the early Holocene epoch. Following the Neolithic way of life and the spread of human populations to Europe, ancestry by early farmers was found to have replaced Mesolithic European hepatitis B strains. However, It was shown that by the end of the 2nd millennium BC, the frequency of this variant had decreased significantly, and the now rare strain of Hepatitis B reappeared with the HIV pandemic.

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