Genetic diversity among sars-cov2 strains in South America may impact performance of molecular detection

Juan David Ramírez, Marina Muñoz, Carolina Hernández, Carolina Flórez, Sergio Gomez, Angelica Rico, Lisseth Pardo, Esther C. Barros, Alberto E. Paniz-Mondolfi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Since its emergence in Wuhan (China) on December 2019, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has rapidly spread worldwide. After its arrival in South America in February 2020, the virus has expanded throughout the region, infecting over 900,000 individuals with approximately 41,000 reported deaths to date. In response to the rapidly growing number of cases, a number of different primer-probe sets have been developed. However, despite being highly specific, most of these primer-probe sets are known to exhibit variable sensitivity. Currently, there are more than 300 SARS-CoV2 whole genome sequences deposited in databases from Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, Uruguay, Peru, and Argentina. To test how regional viral diversity may impact oligo binding sites and affect test performance, we reviewed all available primer-probe sets targeting the E, N, and RdRp genes against available South American SARS-CoV-2 genomes checking for nucleotide variations in annealing sites. Results from this in silico analysis showed no nucleotide variations on the E-gene target region, in contrast to the N and RdRp genes which showed massive nucleotide variations within oligo binding sites. In lines with previous data, our results suggest that the E-gene stands as the most conserved and reliable target when considering single-gene target testing for molecular diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 in South America.

Translated title of the contributionLa diversidad genética entre las cepas de SARS-CoV2 en Sudamérica puede afectar al rendimiento de la detección molecular
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number580
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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