Imperial College London

Dr Chris Wymant

Faculty of MedicineSchool of Public Health

Honorary Research Associate



+44 (0)20 7594 3217c.wymant




Medical SchoolSt Mary's Campus





Publication Type

3 results found

Wymant C, Hall M, Ratmann O, Bonsall D, Golubchik T, de Cesare M, Gall A, Cornelissen M, Fraser C, STOP-HCV Consortium, The Maela Pneumococcal Collaboration, and The BEEHIVE Collaborationet al., 2017, PHYLOSCANNER: inferring transmission from within- and between-host pathogen genetic diversity, Molecular Biology and Evolution, Vol: 35, Pages: 719-733, ISSN: 1537-1719

A central feature of pathogen genomics is that different infectious particles (virions, bacterial cells, etc.) within an infected individual may be genetically distinct, with patterns of relatedness amongst infectious particles being the result of both within-host evolution and transmission from one host to the next. Here we present a new software tool, phyloscanner, which analyses pathogen diversity from multiple infected hosts. phyloscanner provides unprecedented resolution into the transmission process, allowing inference of the direction of transmission from sequence data alone. Multiply infected individuals are also identified, as they harbour subpopulations of infectious particles that are not connected by within-host evolution, except where recombinant types emerge. Low-level contamination is flagged and removed. We illustrate phyloscanner on both viral and bacterial pathogens, namely HIV-1 sequenced on Illumina and Roche 454 platforms, HCV sequenced with the Oxford Nanopore MinION platform, and Streptococcus pneumoniae with sequences from multiple colonies per individual. phyloscanner is available from

Journal article

Ratmann O, Wymant C, Colijn C, Danaviah S, Essex M, Frost S, Gall A, von Haeseler A, Kaleebu P, Kendall M, Kozlov A, Manasa J, Quang Minh B, Moyo S, Novitsky V, Nsubuga R, Pillay S, Quinn TC, Serwadda D, Ssemwanga D, Stamatakis A, Trininopoulos J, Wawer M, Leigh Brown A, de Oliveira T, Kellam P, Pillay D, Fraser Cet al., 2017, HIV-1 full-genome phylogenetics of generalized epidemics in sub-Saharan Africa: impact of missing nucleotide characters in next-generation sequences, Aids Research and Human Retroviruses, Vol: 33, Pages: 1083-1098, ISSN: 1931-8405

To characterize HIV-1 transmission dynamics in regions where the burden of HIV-1 is greatest, the “Phylogenetics and Networks for Generalised HIV Epidemics in Africa” consortium (PANGEA-HIV) is sequencing full-genome viral isolates from across sub-Saharan Africa. We report the first 3,985 PANGEA-HIV consensus sequences from four cohort sites (Rakai Community Cohort Study, n = 2,833; MRC/UVRI Uganda, n = 701; Mochudi Prevention Project, n = 359; Africa Health Research Institute Resistance Cohort, n = 92). Next-generation sequencing success rates varied: more than 80% of the viral genome from the gag to the nef genes could be determined for all sequences from South Africa, 75% of sequences from Mochudi, 60% of sequences from MRC/UVRI Uganda, and 22% of sequences from Rakai. Partial sequencing failure was primarily associated with low viral load, increased for amplicons closer to the 3′ end of the genome, was not associated with subtype diversity except HIV-1 subtype D, and remained significantly associated with sampling location after controlling for other factors. We assessed the impact of the missing data patterns in PANGEA-HIV sequences on phylogeny reconstruction in simulations. We found a threshold in terms of taxon sampling below which the patchy distribution of missing characters in next-generation sequences (NGS) has an excess negative impact on the accuracy of HIV-1 phylogeny reconstruction, which is attributable to tree reconstruction artifacts that accumulate when branches in viral trees are long. The large number of PANGEA-HIV sequences provides unprecedented opportunities for evaluating HIV-1 transmission dynamics across sub-Saharan Africa and identifying prevention opportunities. Molecular epidemiological analyses of these data must proceed cautiously because sequence sampling remains below the identified threshold and a considerable negative impact of missing characters on phyloge

Journal article

Blanquart F, Wymant C, Cornelissen M, Gall A, Bakker M, Bezemer D, Hall M, Hillebregt M, Ong SH, Albert J, Bannert N, Fellay J, Fransen K, Gourlay AJ, Grabowski MK, Gunsenheimer-Bartmeyer B, Guenthard HF, Kivela P, Kouyos R, Laeyendecker O, Liitsola K, Meyer L, Porter K, Ristola M, van Sighem A, Vanham G, Berkhout B, Kellam P, Reiss P, Fraser Cet al., 2017, Viral genetic variation accounts for a third of variability in HIV-1 set-point viral load in Europe, PLoS Biology, Vol: 15, ISSN: 1544-9173

HIV-1 set-point viral load—the approximately stable value of viraemia in the first years of chronic infection—is a strong predictor of clinical outcome and is highly variable across infected individuals. To better understand HIV-1 pathogenesis and the evolution of the viral population, we must quantify the heritability of set-point viral load, which is the fraction of variation in this phenotype attributable to viral genetic variation. However, current estimates of heritability vary widely, from 6% to 59%. Here we used a dataset of 2,028 seroconverters infected between 1985 and 2013 from 5 European countries (Belgium, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom) and estimated the heritability of set-point viral load at 31% (CI 15%–43%). Specifically, heritability was measured using models of character evolution describing how viral load evolves on the phylogeny of whole-genome viral sequences. In contrast to previous studies, (i) we measured viral loads using standardized assays on a sample collected in a strict time window of 6 to 24 months after infection, from which the viral genome was also sequenced; (ii) we compared 2 models of character evolution, the classical “Brownian motion” model and another model (“Ornstein–Uhlenbeck”) that includes stabilising selection on viral load; (iii) we controlled for covariates, including age and sex, which may inflate estimates of heritability; and (iv) we developed a goodness of fit test based on the correlation of viral loads in cherries of the phylogenetic tree, showing that both models of character evolution fit the data well. An overall heritability of 31% (CI 15%–43%) is consistent with other studies based on regression of viral load in donor–recipient pairs. Thus, about a third of variation in HIV-1 virulence is attributable to viral genetic variation.

Journal article

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