virus evolution

Virus evolution is an inter-disciplinary field worked on by scholars from virology, evolutionary biology, epidemiology, ecology, computational biology, and genomics. Virus Evolution provides a venue for in-depth discussion on the field of virus evolution.

Virus model

Experiences show that, for example, a man infected with tuberculosis are 1.5 times more likely to die than women. Also, a man infected with human papillomavirus ( HPV ) are 5 times more likely to develop cancer. The question is why?

First, we have to know that virus evolves through changes in their RNA (or DNA), and the best-adapted mutants quickly outnumber their fewer fit counterparts. Those changes sometimes are quite rapid. The way viruses reproduce in their host cells makes them particularly susceptible to the genetic changes that help to drive their evolution.

Scientists from Royal Holloway, University of London, have researched why man are more affected than women. They think they find the reason. Women are more valuable as host than man. As the viruses want to pass from host to host ( mother to child ), pathogens have evolved to keep them alive longer than men. When we are sick, it is the side effect of the virus who have the fight to survive and spread.

Francisco Ubeda, the lead researcher, further explain that men only have one possible mode of transmission, because they can’t spread a pathogen through pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding. So, if we look “from the eyes of a virus” it is logical to favor the woman, as the chances for transmission are bigger. The connection between virus evolution and sex differences are obvious now.

The focus of this research was the human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1). They tested men and women from Japan and the Caribbean. Results showed that the men from Japan are 3.5 times more likely to cause Adult T-cell Leukaemia (ATL) than women. Caribbean results are more equal, probably due to differences in breastfeeding trends in Japan and the Caribbean. Namely, the Japanese women are more likely to breastfeed the child than the Caribbean.

Those are not the only examples of man’s vulnerability to the viruses. The question that remains to be answered is how virus know if it is in the female or male body. The scientist suggests, for now, that is the virus “default settings” to act as it s in the female body.