Molecular Biology and Evolution vol:27 issue:10 pages:2431-2436
Rotaviruses (RVs) are responsible for more than 600,000 child deaths each year. The worldwide introduction of two life oral vaccines RotaTeq and Rotarix is believed to reduce this number significantly. Before the licensing of both vaccines, two new genotypes, G9 and G12, emerged in the human population and were able to spread across the entire globe in a very short time span. To quantify the VP7 mutation rates of these G9 and G12 genotypes and to estimate their most recent common ancestors, we used a Bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo framework. Based on 356 sequences for G9 and 140 sequences for G12, we estimated mutation rates (nt substitutions/site/year) of 1.87 × 10(-3) (1.45-2.27 × 10(-3)) for G9 and 1.66 × 10(-3) (1.13-2.32 × 10(-3)) for G12. For both the G9 and G12 strains, one particular (sub) lineage was able to disseminate and cause disease across the world. The most recent common ancestors of these particular lineages were dated back to 1989 (1986-1992) and 1995 (1992-1998) for the G9 and G12 genotypes, respectively. These estimates suggest that a single novel RV (e.g., a vaccine escape mutant) can spread worldwide in little more than a decade. These results re-emphasize the need for thorough and continued RV surveillance in order to detect such potential spreading events at an early stage.