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Viral host-adaptation: insights from evolution experiments with phages

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JournalCurrent Opinion in Virology
DatePublished - 25 Jul 2013
Issue number5
Number of pages6
Pages (from-to)572-577
Original languageEnglish


Phages, viral parasites of bacteria, share fundamental features of pathogenic animal and plant viruses and represent a highly tractable empirical model system to understand viral evolution and in particular viral host-adaptation. Phage adaptation to a particular host genotype often results in improved fitness by way of parallel evolution whereby independent lineages hit upon identical adaptive solutions. By contrast, phage adaptation to an evolving host population leads to the evolution of increasing host-range over time and correlated phenotypic and genetic divergence between populations. Phage host-range expansion frequently occurs by a process of stepwise evolution of multiple mutations, and host-shifts are often constrained by mutational availability, pleiotropic costs or ecological conditions.

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© 2013, Elsevier B.V. This is an author produced version of a paper published in Current Opinion in Virology. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.


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