Archival influenza virus genomes from Europe reveal genomic variability during the 1918 pandemic

Livia V Patrono, Bram Vrancken, Matthias Budt, Ariane Düx, Sebastian Lequime, Sengül Boral, M Thomas P Gilbert, Jan F Gogarten, Luisa Hoffmann, David Horst, Kevin Merkel, David Morens, Baptiste Prepoint, Jasmin Schlotterbeck, Verena J Schuenemann, Marc A Suchard, Jeffery K Taubenberger, Luisa Tenkhoff, Christian Urban, Navena WidulinEduard Winter, Michael Worobey, Thomas Schnalke, Thorsten Wolff, Philippe Lemey, Sébastien Calvignac-Spencer

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The 1918 influenza pandemic was the deadliest respiratory pandemic of the 20th century and determined the genomic make-up of subsequent human influenza A viruses (IAV). Here, we analyze both the first 1918 IAV genomes from Europe and the first from samples prior to the autumn peak. 1918 IAV genomic diversity is consistent with a combination of local transmission and long-distance dispersal events. Comparison of genomes before and during the pandemic peak shows variation at two sites in the nucleoprotein gene associated with resistance to host antiviral response, pointing at a possible adaptation of 1918 IAV to humans. Finally, local molecular clock modeling suggests a pure pandemic descent of seasonal H1N1 IAV as an alternative to the hypothesis of origination through an intrasubtype reassortment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2314
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Genome, Viral/genetics
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype/genetics
  • Influenza A virus/genetics
  • Influenza, Human/epidemiology

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