Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus revisited: An evolutionary retrospective

Mary C. Christman, Ambreen Kedwaii, Jianpeng Xu, Ruben O. Donis, Guoqing Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


The pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus is unique in many aspects, especially in its genetics and evolution. In this paper, we examine the molecular mechanisms underlying the evolution of this novel virus through a comprehensive bioinformatics analysis, and present results in the context of a review of the literature. The pandemic virus was found to arise from a reassortment of two swine viruses, each of which ultimately arose from interspecies transmission. It experienced fast evolutionary rates and strong selection pressures, diverging into two different clusters at the early pandemic stage. Cluster I became extinct at the end of 2009 whereas Cluster II continued to circulate at much lower rates in 2010. Therefore, on August 10 of 2010 the WHO declared the end of the pandemic. Important mutations associated with host specificity, virulence, and drug resistance were detected in the pandemic virus, indicating effective transmission and increased severity in humans. Much has been learned about the evolutionary dynamics of this pandemic virus; however, it is still impossible to predict when the next pandemic will occur and which virus will be responsible. Improved surveillance at different levels (both national and international) and in different hosts (especially in swine) appears to be crucial for early detection and prevention of future influenza pandemics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)803-811
Number of pages9
JournalInfection, Genetics and Evolution
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • Evolution
  • Genetic mutation
  • Genome reassortment
  • Influenza
  • Pandemic H1N1
  • Phylodynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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