Evolutionary origins of diversity in human viruses

Paul M. Sharp, Elizabeth Bailes and Louise V Wain

in Evolution in Health and Disease

Second edition

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780199207466
Published online April 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191728167 | DOI:
 Evolutionary origins of diversity in human viruses

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Our knowledge of the amount, pattern, and origins of genetic diversity varies enormously among human viruses. The four groups of viruses discussed in detail here (herpes viruses, AIDS viruses, influenza A viruses, and dengue viruses) exhibit varied patterns of diversity, with different factors important in each case. Rates of evolution vary by 5-6 orders of magnitude, from slowly evolving DNA viruses (herpes viruses), to rapidly evolving RNA viruses (AIDS and influenza A viruses). The timescales of diversification within a clade of human viruses vary by 4-5 orders of magnitude, from a few years for H3N2 influenza viruses, to perhaps 100,000 years or more for some herpes viruses. This depends on how long the viruses have been infecting humans, and whether the virus has been subject to random genetic drift, founder effects, selective sweeps of an advantageous variant, its route of transmission, and its interaction with the host immune system.

Keywords: herpes; HIV; influenza; dengue; rates of evolution; origins; diversification

Chapter.  9003 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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