Global co-existence of two evolutionary lineages of parvovirus B19 1a, different in genome-wide synonymous positions

PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e43206. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043206. Epub 2012 Aug 13.


Parvovirus B19 (B19V) can cause infection in humans. To date, three genotypes of B19V, with subtypes, are known, of which genotype 1a is the most prevalent genotype in the Western world. We sequenced the genome of B19V strains of 65 asymptomatic, recently infected Dutch blood donors, to investigate the spatio-temporal distribution of B19V strains, in the years 2003-2009. The sequences were compared to B19V sequences from Dutch patients with fifth disease, and to global B19V sequences as available from GenBank. All Dutch B19V strains belonged to genotype 1a. Phylogenetic analysis of the strains from Dutch blood donors showed that two groups of genotype 1a co-exist. A clear-cut division into the two groups was also found among the B19V strains from Dutch patients, and among the B19V sequences in GenBank. The two groups of genotype 1a co-exist around the world and do not appear to differ in their ability to cause disease. Strikingly, the two groups of B19V predominantly differ in synonymous mutations, distributed throughout the entire genome of B19V. We propose to call the two groups of B19V genotype 1a respectively subtype 1a1 and 1a2.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Cluster Analysis
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • Demography
  • Erythema Infectiosum / virology*
  • Genome, Viral / genetics*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Models, Genetic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Netherlands
  • Parvovirus B19, Human / genetics*
  • Phylogeny*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Species Specificity


  • DNA Primers

Grant support

This study was facilitated by Sanquin Blood Supply Foundation, The Netherlands. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.