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Sci Bull (Beijing) ; 66(22): 2297-2311, 2021 Nov 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1065574


The pandemic due to the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the etiological agent of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has caused immense global disruption. With the rapid accumulation of SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences, however, thousands of genomic variants of SARS-CoV-2 are now publicly available. To improve the tracing of the viral genomes' evolution during the development of the pandemic, we analyzed single nucleotide variants (SNVs) in 121,618 high-quality SARS-CoV-2 genomes. We divided these viral genomes into two major lineages (L and S) based on variants at sites 8782 and 28144, and further divided the L lineage into two major sublineages (L1 and L2) using SNVs at sites 3037, 14408, and 23403. Subsequently, we categorized them into 130 sublineages (37 in S, 35 in L1, and 58 in L2) based on marker SNVs at 201 additional genomic sites. This lineage/sublineage designation system has a hierarchical structure and reflects the relatedness among the subclades of the major lineages. We also provide a companion website ( that allows users to visualize sublineage information and upload their own SARS-CoV-2 genomes for sublineage classification. Finally, we discussed the possible roles of compensatory mutations and natural selection during SARS-CoV-2's evolution. These efforts will improve our understanding of the temporal and spatial dynamics of SARS-CoV-2's genome evolution.

Natl Sci Rev ; 7(6): 1012-1023, 2020 Jun.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-3293


The SARS-CoV-2 epidemic started in late December 2019 in Wuhan, China, and has since impacted a large portion of China and raised major global concern. Herein, we investigated the extent of molecular divergence between SARS-CoV-2 and other related coronaviruses. Although we found only 4% variability in genomic nucleotides between SARS-CoV-2 and a bat SARS-related coronavirus (SARSr-CoV; RaTG13), the difference at neutral sites was 17%, suggesting the divergence between the two viruses is much larger than previously estimated. Our results suggest that the development of new variations in functional sites in the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the spike seen in SARS-CoV-2 and viruses from pangolin SARSr-CoVs are likely caused by natural selection besides recombination. Population genetic analyses of 103 SARS-CoV-2 genomes indicated that these viruses had two major lineages (designated L and S), that are well defined by two different SNPs that show nearly complete linkage across the viral strains sequenced to date. We found that L lineage was more prevalent than the S lineage within the limited patient samples we examined. The implication of these evolutionary changes on disease etiology remains unclear. These findings strongly underscores the urgent need for further comprehensive studies that combine viral genomic data, with epidemiological studies of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).