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A simple model explains the dynamics of preferential host switching among mammal RNA viruses


Cuthill, JH and Charleston, MA, A simple model explains the dynamics of preferential host switching among mammal RNA viruses, Evolution, 67, (4) pp. 980-990. ISSN 0014-3820 (2013) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2013 The Author(s)

DOI: doi:10.1111/evo.12064


A growing number of studies support a tendency toward preferential host switching, by parasites and pathogens, over relatively short phylogenetic distances. This suggests that a host switch is more probable if a potential host is closely related to the original host than if it is a more distant relative. However, despite its importance for the health of humans, livestock, and wildlife, the detailed dynamics of preferential host switching have, so far, been little studied. We present an empirical test of two theoretical models of preferential host switching, using observed phylogenetic distributions of host species for RNA viruses of three mammal orders (primates, carnivores, and ungulates). The analysis focuses on multihost RNA virus species, because their presence on multiple hosts and their estimated ages of origin indicate recent host switching. Approximate Bayesian computation was used to compare observed phylogenetic distances between hosts with those simulated under the theoretical models. The results support a decreasing sigmoidal model of preferential host switching, with a strong effect from increasing phylogenetic distance, on all three studied host phylogenies. This suggests that the dynamics of host switching are fundamentally similar for RNA viruses of different mammal orders and, potentially, a wider range of coevolutionary systems.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:coevolution, parasitism, phylogenetics
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Genetics
Research Field:Genetics not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Charleston, MA (Professor Michael Charleston)
ID Code:121077
Year Published:2013
Web of Science® Times Cited:19
Deposited By:Mathematics and Physics
Deposited On:2017-09-08
Last Modified:2017-10-31

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