Epidemiology and Infection

Original Papers

Other viral infections

Molecular evolution and epidemiology of four serotypes of dengue virus in Thailand from 1973 to 2007


State Key Laboratory of Pathogen and Biosecurity, Beijing Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology, Beijing, PR China


Thailand was a hyper-endemic country for dengue with co-circulation of four serotypes and tens of thousands of infected cases annually. Taking into consideration the large number of local dengue virus (DENV) sequences available in GenBank, Thailand was the most ideal locality to study co-evolution of DENV. Therefore, we undertook a large-scale molecular epidemiological analysis of all DENV strains isolated in Thailand. In this study, we demonstrated that DENV strains of four serotypes post-1990 grouped into distinct clades, and that specific mutations in the envelope protein were first confirmed in these clades. Compared to the DENV1, DENV2 and DENV3 clades, the DENV4 clade evolved markedly more slowly (6·4 × 10−5 substitutions/site per year). Our results also showed that the genetic diversity of the predominant genotype of each serotype tended to slightly increase over time with fluctuating changes, followed by a stationary phase after 2000. This suggests that the four DENV clades became the predominant strains due to DENV possessing improved fitness after long-term selection.

(Received November 29 2011)

(Revised March 18 2012)

(Accepted April 14 2012)

(Online publication May 14 2012)

Key words

  • Clade replacement;
  • dengue virus;
  • evolution


Address for correspondence: Dr S. P. Chen, Beijing Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology, NO 20, Dongdajie Street, Fengtai District, Beijing 100071, PR China. (Email: shpchen@hotmail.com)