Hitchhiking virus confirms saga of ancient human migration


A study of the full genetic code of a common human virus offers a dramatic confirmation of the "out-of-Africa" pattern of human migration, which had previously been documented by anthropologists and studies of the human genome.

The virus under study, herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), usually causes nothing more severe than cold sores around the mouth, says Curtis Brandt, a professor of medical microbiology and ophthalmology at UW-Madison. Brandt is senior author of the study, now online in the journal PLOS ONE.

When Brandt and co-authors Aaron Kolb and Cécile Ané compared 31 strains of HSV-1 collected in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia, "the result was fairly stunning," says Brandt.

"The viral strains sort exactly as you would predict based on sequencing of human genomes. We found that all of the African isolates cluster together, all the virus from the Far East, Korea, Japan, China clustered together, all the viruses in Europe and America, with one exception, clustered together," he says.

Written By: Science Daily
continue to source article at sciencedaily.com


  1. I don’t follow this at all. So which one of Noah’s sons originally got this virus and how come his brothers didn’t catch it?

  2. I think that the gist of it is that the geographical repartition of the different strains (therefore mutations) of the herpes virus around the world follow the same pattern as the migratory patterns of the original homo-sapiens journey out of Africa to populate the rest of the earth. IOW, each new strain is an evolution of the one before it.

    Therefore, through the DNA signature of each strain, it should be possible to determine which strain came first, which came 2nd, etc, etc. And the predominant location of each of these strains is exactly where one would expect it to be according to where homo sapiens migrated first, then 2nd, then 3rd… so on and so forth.

    I know there are biologists in the group so… am I getting this right or am I completely out to lunch here? Some articles about biology use technical jargon that can be hard to decrypt if you’re not a biologist.

  3. In reply to #4 by Alan4discussion:

    There is a lot more detail of human migrations here:-


    You will see on the maps, that many migrations follow coasts, and are influenced by Ice-ages and changing sea-levels.

    Very interesting and well illustrated. This is the kind of science article a layman like me can digest. Thanks for the link Alan.

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