Virus Evolution

Virus Evolution

 

The way viruses reproduce in their host cells makes them particularly susceptible to the genetic changes that help to drive their evolution. The RNA viruses are especially prone to genetic changes. In host cells there are mechanisms for correcting mistakes when DNA replicates and these kick in whenever cells divide. The genetic material inside the virus plays a major role in how rapidly a virus mutates, which in turn can impact how the illness can spread in the population.

Viruses that replicate through DNA use the same mechanisms the host cell uses to create its own DNA. Many viruses (for example, influenza A virus) can shuffle their genes with other viruses when two identical strains infect the same cell. This phenomenon is called genetic shift.

 

  • Complex molecule of protein and nucleic acid
  • Molecular evolution
  • DNA or RNA of viruses
  • Evolved from plasmids
  • Protein coat: Capsid

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