The SARS-CoV-2 differential genomic adaptation in response to varying UVindex reveals potential genomic resources for better COVID-19 diagnosis and prevention

Naveed Iqbal, Muhammad Rafiq, Masooma, Sanaullah Tareen, Maqsood Ahmad, Faheem Nawaz, Sumair Khan, Rida Riaz, Ting Yang, Ambrin Fatima, Muhsin Jamal, Shahid Mansoor, Xin Liu, Nazeer Ahmed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been a pandemic disease reported in almost every country and causes life-threatening, severe respiratory symptoms. Recent studies showed that various environmental selection pressures challenge the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infectivity and, in response, the virus engenders new mutations, leading to the emergence of more virulent strains of WHO concern. Advance prediction of the forthcoming virulent SARS-CoV-2 strains in response to the principal environmental selection pressures like temperature and solar UV radiation is indispensable to overcome COVID-19. To discover the UV-solar radiation-driven genomic adaption of SARS-CoV-2, a curated dataset of 2,500 full-grade genomes from five different UVindex regions (25 countries) was subjected to in-depth downstream genome-wide analysis. The recurrent variants that best respond to UV-solar radiations were extracted and extensively annotated to determine their possible effects and impacts on gene functions. This study revealed 515 recurrent single nucleotide variants (rcntSNVs) as SARS-CoV-2 genomic responses to UV-solar radiation, of which 380 were found to be distinct. For all discovered rcntSNVs, 596 functional effects (rcntEffs) were detected, containing 290 missense, 194 synonymous, 81 regulatory, and 31 in the intergenic region. The highest counts of missense rcntSNVs in spike (27) and nucleocapsid (26) genes explain the SARS-CoV-2 genomic adjustment to escape immunity and prevent UV-induced DNA damage, respectively. Among all, the most commonly observed rcntEffs were four missenses (RdRp-Pro327Leu, N-Arg203Lys, N-Gly204Arg, and Spike-Asp614Gly) and one synonymous (ORF1ab-Phe924Phe) functional effects. The highest number of rcntSNVs found distinct and were uniquely attributed to the specific UVindex regions, proposing solar-UV radiation as one of the driving forces for SARS-CoV-2 differential genomic adaptation. The phylogenetic relationship indicated the high UVindex region populating SARS-CoV-2 as the recent progenitor of all included samples. Altogether, these results provide baseline genomic data that may need to be included for preparing UVindex region-specific future diagnostic and vaccine formulations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number922393
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2022


  • COVID diagnosis
  • UV-solar radiation
  • comparative genomics
  • genomic adaptation


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