The genomic signature of population reconnection following isolation: From theory to HIV

Nicolas Alcala, Jeffrey D. Jensen, Amalio Telenti, Séverine Vuilleumier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Ease of worldwide travel provides increased opportunities for organisms not only to colonize new environments but also to encounter related but diverged populations. Such events of reconnection and secondary contact of previously isolated populations are widely observed at different time scales. For example, during the quaternary glaciation, sea water level fluctuations caused temporal isolation of populations, often to be followed by secondary contact. At shorter time scales, population isolation and reconnection of viruses are commonly observed, and such events are often associated with epidemics and pandemics. Here, using coalescent theory and simulations, we describe the temporal impact of population reconnection after isolation on nucleotide differences and the site frequency spectrum, as well as common summary statistics of DNA variation. We identify robust genomic signatures of population reconnection after isolation. We utilize our development to infer the recent evolutionary history of human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) in Asia and South America, successfully retrieving the successive HIV subtype colonization events in these regions. Our analysis reveals that divergent HIV-1 subtype populations are currently admixing in these regions, suggesting that HIV-1 may be undergoing a process of homogenization, contrary to popular belief.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-120
Number of pages14
JournalG3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Admixture
  • Coalescent
  • HIV
  • Migration
  • Site frequency spectrum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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