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DNA in human skeletal remains represents an important historical source of host genomic information and potentially of infecting viruses. However, little is known about viral persistence in bone. We searched ca. 70-year-old long bones of putative Finnish casualties from World War II for parvovirus B19 (B19V) DNA, and found a remarkable prevalence of 45%. The viral sequences were exclusively of genotypes 2 (n = 41), which disappeared from circulation in 1970´s, or genotype 3 (n = 2), which has never been reported in Northern Europe. Based on mitochondrial and Y-chromosome profiling, the two individuals carrying B19V genotype 3 were likely from the Soviet Red Army. The most recent common ancestor for all genotypes was estimated at early 1800s. This work demonstrates the forms of B19V that circulated in the first half of the 20(th) century and provides the first evidence of the suitability of bone for exploration of DNA viruses.

Original publication

DOI

10.1038/srep17226

Type

Journal article

Journal

Sci Rep

Publication Date

27/11/2015

Volume

5

Keywords

Bone and Bones, Cadaver, DNA, Viral, Europe, Exhumation, Genotype, History, 20th Century, Humans, Military Personnel, Parvoviridae Infections, Parvovirus B19, Human, Phylogeny, Prevalence, Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction, USSR, World War II