Feeds

HUMANS all come FROM AFRICA: HERPES does not lie

Ex Africa semper frigida ulcus

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Many lotharios will agree that there's nothing attractive about a cold sore - but the virus behind this common affliction is proving very useful in tracing the migration patterns of early humans.

In fact, boffins have been able to analyse the DNA of the unsightly, lip-borne herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) to shore up the "out of Africa" theory of early human development.

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison were able to identify 31 different strains of HSV-1 in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. The "stunning" result was that separate strains of the virus could be found on each continent.

This fact allowed the boffins to trace the pattern of human migration by analysing the relatively simple genome of HSV-1, which is significantly less complex than the human gene.

It's also pretty common as the virus is spread easily through saliva or contact with an infected piece of skin, and is a lifelong affliction.

Curtis Brandt, a professor of medical microbiology and ophthalmology, said: "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.

"What we found follows exactly what the anthropologists have told us, and the molecular geneticists who have analyzed the human genome have told us, about where humans originated and how they spread across the planet."

Researchers looked at the 31 different genomes and built a "family tree" for the HSV-1 virus.

What they found was was "clear support for the out-of-Africa hypothesis".

"Our results clearly support the anthropological data, and other genetic data, that explain how humans came from Africa into the Middle East and started to spread from there," Brandt added.

The study even seemed to back up the theory that human population of the planet was begun by a small group of pioneers who managed to cross the Sahara and escape the continent.

"There is a population bottleneck between Africa and the rest of the world. Very few people were involved in the initial migration from Africa," Brandt continued. "When you look at the phylogenetic tree from the virus, it's exactly the same as what the anthropologists have told us."

The results also seem to back up the theory of a land bridge over the Bering Strait, due to the fact that a Asian strain was found in Texas.

Which leads us on to an old joke. What's the difference between herpes and true love? Herpes is forever.

The study is called Using HSV-1 Genome Phylogenetics to Track Past Human Migrations and is published in PLOS ONE. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
Volcanic eruption in Iceland triggers CODE RED aviation warning
Lava-spitting Bárðarbunga prompts action from Met Office
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
Major cyber attack hits Norwegian oil industry
Statoil, the gas giant behind the Scandie social miracle, targeted
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.