Saturday, March 18, 2017

Species Jumping Implicated in Viral Implication

Australian researchers looking into viral genetics and evolutionary histories used the lineages of viruses and the hosts they infect to uncover that host and viral genetic divergence schemes are linked. Researchers were able to demonstrate that co-divergence leads to viral evolution that closely parallels, and is likely in interaction with, host evolution, and that, importantly, viral species jumps could contribute to larger genetic shifts and breaks with original host evolution, creating point zeros for further mutagenesis and evolution.

Scientists found that species jumping was implicated in viral evolution for all viral families included in their panel. Instances of co-divergence were more rare, though this feels counterintuitive considering that viruses must exploit host proteins to infect those host productively and, that, thus, viruses must be somewhat specific to their hosts. This may reflect, instead, the volatility of viral genetic material as well as the relative homogeneity of the proteins and other sub-cellular structures which viruses exploit in their hosts.


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