Nine subgenotypes from genotype B have been identified for hepatitis B virus (HBV). However, these subgenotypes were less conclusive as they were often designated based on a few representative strains. In addition, subgenotype B6 was designated twice for viruses of different origin.
All complete genome sequences of genotype B HBV were phylogenetically analyzed. Sequence divergences between different potential subgenotypes were also assessed.
Both phylogenetic and sequence divergence analyses supported the designation of subgenotypes B1, B2, B4, and B6 (from Arctic). However, sequence divergences between previously designated B3, B5, B7, B8, B9 and another B6 (from China) were mostly less than 4%. In addition, subgenotype B3 did not form a monophyly.
Current evidence failed to classify original B5, B7, B8, B9, and B6 (from China) as subgenotypes. Instead, they could be considered as a quasi-subgenotype B3 of Southeast Asian and Chinese origin. In addition, previously designated B6 (from Arctic) should be renamed as B5 for continuous numbering. This novel classification is well supported by both the phylogeny and sequence divergence of > 4%.