Sequence Analysis for SNP Detection and Phylogenetic Reconstruction of SARS-CoV-2 Isolated from Nigerian COVID-19 Cases

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Author Name

Idowu A. Taiwo

Nike Adeleye

Fatimah O. Anwoju

Adeyemi Adeyinka


Ijeoma Uzoma

Taiwo T. Bankole

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Background Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that belong to the Family Coronaviridae, Genus Betacoronavirus . In December 2019, a new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) characterized by severe respiratory symptoms was discovered. The causative pathogen was a novel coronavirus known as 2019-nCoV and later as SARS-CoV-2. Within two months of its discovery, COVID-19 became a pandemic causing widespread morbidity and mortality. Methodology Whole genome sequence data of SARS-CoV-2 isolated from Nigerian COVID-19 cases were retrieved by downloading from GISAID database. A total of 18 sequences that satisfied quality assurance (length ≥ 29700 nts and number of unknown bases denoted as ‘N’ ≤ 5%) were used for the study. Multiple sequence alignment (MSA) was done in MAFFT (Version 7.471) while SNP calling was implemented in DnaSP (Version 6.12.03) respectively and then visualized in Jalview (Version Phylogenetic analysis was with MEGA X software. Results Nigerian SARS-CoV-2 had 99.9% genomic similarity with four large conserved genomic regions. A total of 66 SNPs were identified out of which 31 were informative. Nucleotide diversity assessment gave Pi = 0.00048 and average SNP frequency of 2.22 SNPs per 1000 nts. Non-coding genomic regions particularly 5’UTR and 3’UTR had a SNP density of 3.77 and 35.4 respectively. The region with the highest SNP density was ORF10 with a frequency of 8.55 SNPs/1000 nts). Majority (72.2%) of viruses in Nigeria are of L lineage with preponderance of D614G mutation which accounted for 11 (61.1%) out of the 18 viral sequences. Nigeria SARS-CoV-2 revealed 3 major clades namely Oyo, Ekiti and Osun on a maximum likelihood phylogenetic tree. Conclusion and Recommendation Nigerian SARS-CoV-2 reveals high mutation rate together with preponderance of L lineage and D614G mutants. Implication of these mutations for SARS-CoV-2 virulence and the need for more aggressive testing and treatment of COVID-19 in Nigeria is discussed. Additionally, attempt to produce testing kits for COVID-19 in Nigeria should consider the conserved regions identified in this study. Strict adherence to COVID-19 preventive measure is recommended in view of Nigerian SARS-CoV-2 phylogenetic clustering pattern, which suggests intensive community transmission possibly rooted in communal culture characteristic of many ethnicities in Nigeria. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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