Genetic trace of the Ebola epidemic

As the EMLabs performed diagnostics from the beginning of the Ebola outbreak, we collected patient samples at various sites throughout the epidemic.

Working in the “European Mobile Laboratory” at the onset of the Ebola epidemic in Guinea.

By sequencing large parts of the genomes of 179 virus isolates sampled between March 2014 and January 2015, we were able to follow mutations over time. Thereby, we reconstructed the formation of various viral lineages and traced the spread of the epidemic. The results confirmed observations that the virus passed the border from Guinea to Sierra Leone between the end of April and beginning of May 2014. The lineages of the two countries crossed paths in the summer of 2014 as progeny of the early Guinean lineage was later found again in Guinea. In addition, the data show that the Ebola virus did not have an unusually high mutation rate indicating that the risk of emerging viral mutants that could escape vaccine protection was small.


Carroll M.W. et al., Nature 2015, 524:97-101

Marlis Badusche, Beate Becker-Ziaja, Britta Liedigk, Lisa Oestereich, Romy Kerber, Martin Gabriel, Stephan Günther and external co-operation partners (see publication)