Horizontal gene transfer and recombination analysis of SARS-CoV-2 genes helps discover its close relatives and shed light on its origin
The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is one of the greatest global medical and social challenges that have emerged in recent history. Human coronavirus strains discovered during previous SARS outbreaks have been hypothesized to pass from bats to humans using intermediate hosts, e.g. civets for SARS-CoV and camels for MERS-CoV. The discovery of an intermediate host of SARS-CoV-2 and the identification of specific mechanism of its emergence in humans are topics of primary evolutionary importance. In this study we investigate the evolutionary patterns of 11 main genes of SARS-CoV-2. Previous studies suggested that the genome of SARS-CoV-2 is highly similar to the horseshoe bat coronavirus RaTG13 for most of the genes and to some Malayan pangolin coronavirus (CoV) strains for the receptor binding (RB) domain of the spike protein.