Follow the Herpes!
October 21, 2013 4:39 PM   Subscribe

Another herpes classic:
Sequence analyses of herpesviral enzymes suggest an ancient origin for human sexual behavior
"we postulate that ancestral HSV (aHSV) was similar, and that for HSV-1 and -2 to diverge, genital and oral sites had to become microbiologically somewhat isolated from each other, while oral-oral and genital-genital contact had to be facilitated to maintain both aHSV strains."
posted by benzenedream at 5:05 PM on October 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

"Really, though, I like to think of myself as more, uh, post-Clovis... I've partied with the nomads but, ever since deglaciation I've really felt like I want to settle down with the right girl... I feel like we have a special connection, you know? Oh, you like my arrow heads - yeah, I carved them all myself while I was crossing the land bridge.

Do you mind if I slip out of this mammoth skin? The gnats are terrible tonight and it's really chafing."
posted by CynicalKnight at 6:10 PM on October 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

A migration pattern is not shown for Australia, interesting...
Did Aboriginal people show up before herpes had the chance to hitch a ride? Or is this a gap in the study?
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 7:02 PM on October 21, 2013

Australian herpes is probably fanged, outrageously lethal, and hides where you least expect it. Like every other wild creature on that island continent.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:06 PM on October 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

Follow the herpes... Why couldn't it be 'follow the butterflies'?
posted by Gordafarin at 2:00 AM on October 22, 2013

Interesting article, thanks for posting. It's quite surprising, really, when you think about it. With all of the travel that goes on today, you'd think everything would be mixed up. In fact, when scientists have looked at human genetics, they've argued that we're actually more related to each other than you might think, just because of a relatively minor amount of traveling (see, for example this paper and this old post).

Evidently, HSV doesn't spread so easily. If you bring your North American or European HSV into East Africa it won't out compete with the established HSV strains in the community (that have been passed around, locally, for thousands of years).

Did Aboriginal people show up before herpes had the chance to hitch a ride? Or is this a gap in the study?

Gap in the data, apparently. From the paper: "Currently complete, or nearly complete genomic sequences are available from North America, Europe, East Asia and Eastern Africa." No mention of Oz. It sounds as though the sequences haven't been generated. Not massively surprising, I guess. We don't have quite the same budget as the US and Europe for biomedical research. HSV definitely exists in the aboriginal community, though. And while it's not clear if such HSV is 40,000 years old or came with the white settlers 200 years ago, this paper would suggest that the former is quite likely.
posted by kisch mokusch at 6:42 AM on October 22, 2013

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