Evaluating the evidence for virus/host co-evolution

Paul M. Sharp*, Peter Simmonds

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

There is currently much debate about the timescales of virus evolution. Some viruses may have co-evolved with human populations for tens of thousands of years, or even with our primate ancestors over many millions of years. However, calibrations of the rate of short-term virus evolution lead to estimates of dates for viral ancestors that are orders of magnitude more recent, and a number of the proposed host-virus co-divergence scenarios have been questioned. Other considerations indicate that the proposed recent timescales for virus evolution are implausible, that co-divergence has been rejected prematurely, and that long-term evolutionary rates are very much slower than short-term rates. There is a need to understand the biological basis of this discrepancy and to develop evolutionary models that can accommodate this.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)436-441
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Virology
Volume1
Issue number5
Early online date9 Nov 2011
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • ENDOGENOUS LENTIVIRUS
  • MAMMALIAN GENOMES
  • MOLECULAR EVOLUTION
  • VIRAL EVOLUTION
  • JC VIRUS
  • AIDS VIRUSES
  • GENUS SAGUINUS
  • PHYLOGENETIC EVIDENCE
  • ORIGINS
  • ORDERED RNA STRUCTURE

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