Genetic fossils betray hepatitis B's ancient roots

Genetic fossils betray hepatitis B's ancient roots

Modern bird genomes reveal evidence that virus is at least 82 million years old

By Tina Hesman Saey, 13:52 PM April 30, 2013

A virus that causes liver diseases in people may have infected birds that shared the planet with dinosaurs.

More than 82 million years ago, a hepatitis B virus infected an ancient bird and got stuck in its genome, a molecular version of a tar pit, researchers report April 30 in Nature Communications. Using fragments of DNA found in modern-day zebra finches, evolutionary biologist Alexander Suh and colleagues at the University of Münster in Germany pieced together a complete genome of the an...

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