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Forests and human health

Forests and human health | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

This 2009 publication from the FAO’s Forestry and Forest Products Division highlights why emerging infectious diseases are considered to be among today’s major challenges to science, global health and human development. Rapid changes associated with globalization, especially the rapidly increasing ease of transport, are mixing people, domestic animals, wildlife and plants, along with their parasites and pathogens, at a frequency and in combinations that are unprecedented.

ComplexInsight's insight:

This prescient report from the FAO in 2009 highlights why research on EIDs, particularly that involving the ecological epidemiology of zoonotic and vector-borne diseases associated with forests, needs to be integrated with forest resource management and planning and healthcare management planning. This report along with related publications from FAO are essential reading for anyone modeling ecological change and disease impact. Very much worth reading.

 
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Deforestation, development may be driving Ebola outbreaks, experts say | Al Jazeera America

Deforestation, development may be driving Ebola outbreaks, experts say | Al Jazeera America | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
As humans transform ecosystems and come into closer contact with animals, scientists fear more viral epidemics
ComplexInsight's insight:

After publishing the link to the paper on ebola antibodies in fruitbats in Bangladesh - wespeculated and were asked regarding deforestation impact - this is a good overview article discussing some of the current discussion points.

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Why HIV Virions Have Low Numbers of Envelope Spikes: Implications for Vaccine Development

Why HIV Virions Have Low Numbers of Envelope Spikes: Implications for Vaccine Development | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
From molecules to physiology
ComplexInsight's insight:

Interesting paper on structural protien envelope spikes in HIV related viruses and their relation to autoimmune response and implications for vaccine development by John Schiller and Bryce Chackerian. 

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A World Cup Visitor: Polio from Africa in Brazil | Science Blogs | WIRED

A World Cup Visitor: Polio from Africa in Brazil | Science Blogs | WIRED | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
The World Health Organization announced on Monday that a polio sample was collected in March at Viracopos International Airport in Campinas, which is about 60 miles outside Sao Paulo, and is where many of the World Cup teams have been landing. The agency said no cases of polio have been identified and there is no evidence the disease has been transmitted.
ComplexInsight's insight:

Another awesome article by Maryn Mckenna, highlighting the interconnectedness of our health ecossystem as polio virus from Afric is found in a Brazilian sewer. The possible vector - visitors for the world cup. Article very worth reading.

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Cellular traffic control system mapped for the first time

Cellular traffic control system mapped for the first time | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

Cells regulate the uptake of nutrients and messenger cargos and their transport within the cell. This process is known as endocytosis and membrane traffic. Different cargos dock onto substrate specific receptors on the cell membrane. Special proteins such as kinases, GTPases and coats, activate specific entry routes and trigger the uptake of the receptors into the cell. For their uptake, the receptors and docked cargos become enclosed by the cell membrane. In the next steps, the membrane invaginates and becomes constricted. The resulting vesicle is guided via several distinct stations, cellular organelles, to its final destination in the cell.

 

For her study, Dr. Prisca Liberali, senior scientist in the team of Professor Lucas Pelkmans, sequentially switched off 1200 human genes. Using automated high-throughput light microscopy and computer vision, she could monitor and compare 13 distinct transport paths involving distinct receptors and cellular organelles. Precise quantifications of thousands of single cells identified the genes required for the different transport routes. Surprisingly, sets of transport routes are co-regulated and coordinated in specific ways by different programs of regulatory control.

 

Subsequently, Dr. Liberali calculated the hierarchical order within the genetic network and thereby identified the regulatory topology of cellular transport. "The transport into the cell and within the cells proceeds analogously to the cargo transport within a city" describes the scientist. "Like in a city, the traffic on the routes within a cell and their intersections is tightly regulated by traffic lights and signs to guide the cargo flow."

 

Thanks to this unique quantitative map, the fine regulatory details of transport paths and processes within a cells could be mapped for the first time. Particularly the genes that encode for these traffic lights and switches are often de-regulated in disease. With this map, it is now possible to predict how this leads to traffic jams in the cells, causing the disease phenotype. Alternatively, since many drugs have been developed to target these traffic lights and switches, the map can be used to come up with possible drug combinations to target unwanted traffic, such as viruses, to the waste disposal system of the cell.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald, burkesquires
ComplexInsight's insight:

Mapping the fine regulatory details of transport paths and processes within cells is key to understanding gene and protein functions, cancer, viral interactions and potential treatments.  Interesting read.

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Viruses affect an African flamingo population by killing their bacterial food source

Viruses affect an African flamingo population by killing their bacterial food source | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

Trophic cascade effects occur when a food web is disrupted by loss or significant reduction of one or more of its members. In East African Rift Valley lakes, the Lesser Flamingo is on top of a short food chain. At irregular intervals, the dominance of their most important food source, the cyanobacterium Arthrospira fusiformis, is interrupted. Bacteriophages are known as potentially controlling photoautotrophic bacterioplankton. In Lake Nakuru (Kenya), we found the highest abundance of suspended viruses ever recorded in a natural aquatic system. We document that cyanophage infection and the related breakdown of A. fusiformis biomass led to a dramatic reduction in flamingo abundance. This documents that virus infection at the very base of a food chain can affect, in a bottom-up cascade, the distribution of end consumers. We anticipate this as an important example for virus-mediated cascading effects, potentially occurring also in various other aquatic food webs.


Via Chris Upton + helpers, Ed Rybicki
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HIV-like virus 'cleared in monkeys'

HIV-like virus 'cleared in monkeys' | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Scientists have tested a vaccine that appears to be effective against the primate equivalent of HIV.
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Bird flu 'passed between humans'

Bird flu 'passed between humans' | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Researchers have reported the first case of human-to-human transmission of the new bird flu that has emerged in China.
ComplexInsight's insight:

First recorded case of human to human transmission of  H7N9 is being reported by BBC following publication of research findings and an editorial in the British Medical Journal. However the case does not mean the virus can easily spread between humans and according to DrJames Rudge of the London School of Hygiene and Triopical Medicine  the occurance is is not suprising since limited transmission has been seen in other bird flu viruses such as H5N1. 

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Giant Pandoravirus is 1,000 times larger than influenca virus and contains 2556 genes

Giant Pandoravirus is 1,000 times larger than influenca virus and contains 2556 genes | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

Giant viruses turn out to be everywhere. It was the very giant-ness of giant viruses that allowed them to be overlooked for so long. Scientists first discovered viruses in the late 1800s when they were puzzled by a disease that beset tobacco plants. They mashed up wilted tobacco leaves with water and passed the mixture through fine porcelain filters that trapped bacteria and fungi. The clear liquid could still make healthy tobacco leaves sick. The Dutch botanist Martinus Beijerinck dubbed it “a contagious living fluid.”

 

In the 1930s, the invention of powerful microscopes finally allowed scientists to see viruses. They found that viruses were unlike ordinary cells: they didn’t generate their own fuel; they didn’t grow or divide. Instead, viruses invaded cells, hijacking their biochemistry to make new copies of themselves. Being small and simple seemed like part of the viral way of life, allowing them to replicate fast.

 

It wasn’t until 2003 that a team of French researchers discovered the first giant virus. They had been puzzling over sphere-shaped objects that were the size of bacteria but contained no bacterial DNA. Eventually they realized that they were looking at a monstrously oversized virus, containing 979 genes, much less than the newly discovered Pandoravirus.

 

Those first giant viruses were isolated from amoebae living in water from a cooling tower. Once scientists realized that viruses could be so large, they changed their search parameters and started finding other species in all manner of places, from swamps to rivers to contact lens fluid.

 

And along the way the biggest viruses got bigger. In 2011, Dr. Claverie and his colleagues set a new record with megaviruses, a type of giant virus with 1,120 genes they discovered in sea water off the coast of Chile. They then dug into the sediment below that sea water and discovered pandoravirsues, with more than twice as many genes.

 

Dr. Claverie speculates that pandoraviruses and other giant viruses evolved from free-living microbes that branched off from other life several billion years ago. “The type of cells they may have evolved from may have disappeared,” he said.

 

The idea that giant viruses represent separate branches on the tree of life is a controversial one that many other experts aren’t ready to embrace. “They provide no evidence for that notion, so it seems a distraction to me,” said T. Martin Embley, a professor of evolutionary molecular biology at Newcastle University.

 

Despite those reservations, Dr. Embley and other researchers hail pandoraviruses as an important discovery. “I think it’s wonderful that such crazy and divergent lifeforms continue to be discovered,” said Tom Williams, Dr. Embley’s colleague at Newcastle University.

 

The new study also drives home the fact that giant viruses are far from rare. Shortly after discovering pandoraviruses in sea floor sediment, Dr. Claverie and his colleagues found them in water from a lake in Australia, 10,000 miles away. “It definitely indicates that they must not be rare at all,” said Dr. Claverie.

 

Giant viruses may be so common, in fact, that they may be hiding inside of us, too. In a paper published online on July 2 in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, French researchers offered evidence that giant viruses dwell in healthy people. They isolated a new giant virus from blood donated by a healthy volunteer, and then found antibodies and other signs of the virus in four other donors.

 

Giant viruses may lurk harmlessly in our bodies, invading the amoebae we harbor. Whether they can make us sick is an open question. “I don’t believe we have the proof at the moment that these viruses could infect humans,” said Dr. Claverie.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald, Chris Upton + helpers
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Tomas Moravec's comment, July 23, 2013 4:14 AM
It is surprising how these large gyus avoided discovery for such a long time.
Ed Rybicki's comment, July 23, 2013 4:17 AM
Well, if they look like bacteria, and we are still finding new exemplars of those...
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Viruses in commercial cell lines

Viruses in commercial cell lines | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

Cryopreserved primary human renal proximal tubule epithelial cells (RPTEC) were obtained from a commercial supplier for studies of Simian virus 40 (SV40). Within twelve hrs after cell cultures were initiated, cytoplasmic vacuoles appeared in many of the RPTEC. The RPTEC henceforth deteriorated rapidly. Since SV40 induces the formation of cytoplasmic vacuoles, this batch of RPTEC was rejected for the SV40 study. Nevertheless, we sought the likely cause(s) of the deterioration of the RPTEC as part of our technology development efforts.

 

 


Via Chad Smithson
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Ed Rybicki's curator insight, July 1, 2013 10:53 AM

ALWAYS check your reagents....

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PLOS ONE: Metagenomic Exploration of Viruses throughout the Indian Ocean

PLOS ONE: Metagenomic Exploration of Viruses throughout the Indian Ocean | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
PLOS ONE: an inclusive, peer-reviewed, open-access resource from the PUBLIC LIBRARY OF SCIENCE. Reports of well-performed scientific studies from all disciplines freely available to the whole world.

Via Ed Rybicki
ComplexInsight's insight:

The oceans role as a viral and microbiological ecosystem is not well understood these findings are an important step in beginning to address that. Interesting paper. Click on image or title to learn more. 

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Deadly virus kills Tunisian man

Deadly virus kills Tunisian man | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
A man has died of the novel coronavirus (NCoV) in Tunisia, in what is believed to be the first such case in Africa.
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HIV - learning from an evolutionary arms race.

HIV - learning from an evolutionary arms race. | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
ComplexInsight's insight:

In an awesome peice of detective work mapping out the evolutionary arms race between virus and immune reponse was published in the journal nature. The research team's study is based on a patient in Africa who had a rapid diagnosis after being infected with the virus.By analyzing immune response and HIV evolution the team  were eventually able to produce an antibody named CH103 that could neutralise 55% of HIV samples tested. However the anitbody was not produced in one easy step. Rather it was the product of the war of the immune system and HIV trying to out-evolve each other in a a typical arms rage that culminated in the production of CH103.  This mapping may help in designing fututer treatments and certainly contributes a lot to understanding the HIV immune system relationships. Click on the image or title to learn more.

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Outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in Guinea: Where Ecology Meets Economy

Outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in Guinea: Where Ecology Meets Economy | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

The precise factors that result in an Ebola virus outbreak remain unknown, but a broad examination of the complex and interwoven ecology and socioeconomics may help us better understand what has already happened and be on the lookout for what might happen next, including determining regions and populations at risk. Although the focus is often on the rapidity and efficacy of the short-term international response, attention to these admittedly challenging underlying factors will be required for long-term prevention and control.

 
ComplexInsight's insight:

As terrifying and tragic the current Ebola outbreak is - informed discussion on sources, vectors and the interplay of ecology and socioeconomics will be at the heart of finding long term solutions.

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Ebola Virus Antibodies in Fruit Bats, Bangladesh - Volume 19, Number 2—February 2013 - Emerging Infectious Disease journal - CDC

Ebola Virus Antibodies in Fruit Bats, Bangladesh - Volume 19, Number 2—February 2013 - Emerging Infectious Disease journal - CDC | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
To determine geographic range for Ebola virus, we tested 276 bats in Bangladesh. Five (3.5%) bats were positive for antibodies against Ebola Zaire and Reston viruses; no virus was detected by PCR. These bats might be a reservoir for Ebola or Ebola-like viruses, and extend the range of filoviruses to mainland Asia.
ComplexInsight's insight:

As evidence builds that fruit bats may be a vector for the recent ebola outbreak in Western Africa - I was reminded of this paper in CDC's EID journal which found 5 out of 276 (3.5%) tested bats in Bangladesh had antibodies to Ebola. It would be interesting to map ebola outbreaks against natural migration and deforestation paths and see if there is any correlation and to see how other regional antibody presence tests indicate migration as well. The original paper and the EID journal in general are well worth reading. Click image or headling to read more.

 

 

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Canada to give WHO Ebola vaccine

Canada to give WHO Ebola vaccine | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

Following the WHO decision that it was ethical to use untested drugs on Ebola patients if it gave them a possibility of recovery, Canada says it will donate up to 1,000 doses of an experimental Ebola vaccine to help battle the disease's outbreak in West Africa.

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Quantitative Temporal Viromics: An Approach to Investigate Host-Pathogen Interaction: Cell

Quantitative Temporal Viromics: An Approach to Investigate Host-Pathogen Interaction: Cell | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

A systematic quantitative analysis of temporal changes in host and viral proteins throughout the course of a productive infection could provide dynamic insights into virus-host interaction. We developed a proteomic technique called “quantitative temporal viromics” (QTV), which employs multiplexed tandem-mass-tag-based mass spectrometry. Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is not only an important pathogen but a paradigm of viral immune evasion. QTV detailed how HCMV orchestrates the expression of >8,000 cellular proteins, including 1,200 cell-surface proteins to manipulate signaling pathways and counterintrinsic, innate, and adaptive immune defenses. QTV predicted natural killer and T cell ligands, as well as 29 viral proteins present at the cell surface, potential therapeutic targets. Temporal profiles of >80% of HCMV canonical genes and 14 noncanonical HCMV open reading frames were defined. QTV is a powerful method that can yield important insights into viral infection and is applicable to any virus with a robust in vitro model.


Via burkesquires
ComplexInsight's insight:

Understanding protein change during virus-host interaction offers opportunities for new diagnostics, treatments and clear understanding of how specific viruses interact and manipulate signalling pathways and immune defenses. QTV offers a lot of promise for researchers and practitioners.

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Smallpox: Last refuge of an ultimate killer

Smallpox: Last refuge of an ultimate killer | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
If a virus killed millions, why keep it alive? Two places on Earth guard the last vials of smallpox, but Rachel Nuwer finds that they may not be there for long
ComplexInsight's insight:

Good article from the BBC on Smallpox before the World Health Assembly debate destroying the remaining stores at CDC and Vector.

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Decoding viral puzzles

Decoding viral puzzles | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
The genome of viruses is usually enclosed inside a shell called capsid. Capsids have unique mechanic properties: they have to be resistant and at the same time capable of dissolving in order to release the genome into the infected cell.

Via Ed Rybicki
ComplexInsight's insight:

interesting paper looking at capsid mechanisms. 

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Ed Rybicki's curator insight, December 11, 2013 1:16 AM

Love that structural stuf....

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Camels could be deadly virus source

Camels could be deadly virus source | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Dromedary camels could be responsible for passing to humans the deadly Mers coronavirus that emerged last year, research suggests.
ComplexInsight's insight:

Scientists looking for the vector for  Mers coronavirus, published a study  in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases appear to have found a candidate vector. After testing for antibodies in blood samples taken from livestock animals, including camels, sheep, goats and cows, from a number of different countries the team found low levels of antibodies in 15 out of 105 camels from the Canary Islands and high levels in each of the 50 camels tested in Oman.  Scientists still need to isolate or sequence the virus from an infected animal to be definite but these findings will help direct new research.

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New virus 'not following Sars' path'

New virus 'not following Sars' path' | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
The new Mers virus, which has killed half of those infected, is "unlikely" to reach the same scale as Sars, ministers in Saudi Arabia say.
ComplexInsight's insight:

The source of the Mers virus is still unknown. Given that Mers is from the same group of viruses as Sars and Common Cold - understanding the genotype and phenotype differences and how they relate to pathogenic and vector pathways  in its related family could help to better understand both Mers and related groups and perhaps indicate a source. Viral evolution is something we still know relatively little about - and understanding of how they coevolve and relate to microbial habitat are becoming increasingly important to health planning and treatments.

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Insight into the unknown marine virus majority

Insight into the unknown marine virus majority | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

Via Ed Rybicki
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excellend read. thanks for scooping.

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Ed Rybicki's curator insight, July 13, 2013 5:35 AM

Thanks, Alan Cann!

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Bird Flu: H7N9 Infection Risk Mapped

Bird Flu: H7N9 Infection Risk Mapped | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

There have been 131 cases of infection confirmed cases of H7N9 in mainland China with 39  deaths. A lack of information about the virus and its mode of transmission  led to public concerns that H7N9 could be a pandemic waiting to happen.A map of avian influenza (H7N9) risk is now available. The map is comprised of bird migration patterns, and adding in estimations of poultry production and consumption, which are used to infer future risk and to advise on ways to prevent infection.

ComplexInsight's insight:

Professor Jiming Liu who led the study explained, "By basing our model on wild bird migration and distribution of potentially infected poultry we are able to produce a time line of the estimated risk of human infection with H7N9. The preliminary results of our study made a prediction of bird flu risk which could explain the pattern of the most recent cases. By extending the model we will be able to predict future infection risks across central and western China, which will aid in surveillance and control of H7N9 infections. Since the effect of poultry-to-poultry infection is not really understood it may become necessary to regulate the activity of poultry markets. To learn more click on the image or title.

 

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Researchers seek fresh approach to HIV vaccine

Researchers seek fresh approach to HIV vaccine | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Last month's cancellation of the largest ongoing HIV vaccine trial stopped yet another promising candidate. The growing pool of clinical failures shows that a new approach is needed. This past week, academia offered up two new angles of attack.
ComplexInsight's insight:

FierceVaccines is a great source of info on new research. The summary of work published in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology from The Scripps Research focus on an area of the HIV virus where mutation is limited is worth reading and shows new approaches towards researching vaccines for HIV.

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Origin and diversity of novel avian influenza A H7N9 viruses causing human infection: phylogenetic, structural, and coalescent analyses : The Lancet

BackgroundOn March 30, 2013, a novel avian influenza A H7N9 virus that infects human beings was identified. This virus had been detected in six provinces and municipal cities in China as of April 18, 2013. We correlated genomic sequences from avian influenza viruses with ecological information and did phylogenetic and coalescent analyses to extrapolate the potential origins of the virus and possible routes of reassortment events.MethodsWe downloaded H7N9 virus genome sequences from the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data (GISAID) database and public sequences used from the Influenza Virus Resource. We constructed phylogenetic trees and did 1000 bootstrap replicates for each tree. Two rounds of phylogenetic analyses were done. We used at least 100 closely related sequences for each gene to infer the overall topology, removed suspicious sequences from the trees, and focused on the closest clades to the novel H7N9 viruses. We compared our tree topologies with those from a bayesian evolutionary analysis by sampling trees (BEAST) analysis. We used the bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo method to jointly estimate phylogenies, divergence times, and other evolutionary parameters for all eight gene fragments. We used sequence alignment and homology-modelling methods to study specific mutations regarding phenotypes, specifically addressing the human receptor binding properties.FindingsThe novel avian influenza A H7N9 virus originated from multiple reassortment events. The HA gene might have originated from avian influenza viruses of duck origin, and the NA gene might have transferred from migratory birds infected with avian influenza viruses along the east Asian flyway. The six internal genes of this virus probably originated from two different groups of H9N2 avian influenza viruses, which were isolated from chickens. Detailed analyses also showed that ducks and chickens probably acted as the intermediate hosts leading to the emergence of this virulent H7N9 virus. Genotypic and potential phenotypic differences imply that the isolates causing this outbreak form two separate subclades.InterpretationThe novel avian influenza A H7N9 virus might have evolved from at least four origins. Diversity among isolates implies that the H7N9 virus has evolved into at least two different lineages. Unknown intermediate hosts involved might be implicated, extensive global surveillance is needed, and domestic-poultry-to-person transmission should be closely watched in the future.FundingChina Ministry of Science and Technology Project 973, National Natural Science Foundation of China, China Health and Family Planning Commission, Chinese Academy of Sciences.


Via burkesquires
ComplexInsight's insight:

Firstly sidestepping the important findings for H7N9 virus, this paper illustrates the importance of rgorous methodology and  key research methods for understanding disease evolution and contagence pathways. the paper details  correlated genomic sequences and ecological information using phylogenetic and coalescent analyses to extrapolate the potential originsand  possible routes of reassortment events in H7N9 virus.  As for the findings - novel avian influenza viruses are a major concern for world wide public health - the research work in this paper raises the need for understanding intermediate hosts, viral evolution pathways and domestic poultry wild animation contact on a global scale for future health policy. Worth reading.

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