Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Vet Res. 2010 Nov-Dec;41(6):38. doi: 10.1051/vetres/2010010. Epub 2010 Feb 5.

Mechanisms of viral emergence.

Author information

  • 1Centro de Biologia Molecular Severo Ochoa, Madrid, Spain.


A number of virologic and environmental factors are involved in the emergence and re-emergence of viral disease. Viruses do not conservatively occupy a single and permanent ecological niche. Rather, due to their intrinsic capacity for genetic change, and to the evolvability of fitness levels, viruses display a potential to parasitize alternative host species. Mutation, recombination and genome segment reassortment, and combination of these molecular events, produce complex and phenotypically diverse populations of viruses, which constitute the raw material on which selection acts. The majority of emerging viral diseases of humans have a zoonotic origin. Sociologic and ecologic factors produce diverse and changing environments in which viral subpopulations have ample opportunities to be selected from intrinsically heterogeneous viral populations, particularly in the case of RNA viruses. In this manner, new human, animal and plant viruses have emerged periodically and, from all evidence, will continue to emerge. This article reviews some of the mechanisms that have been identified in viral emergence, with a focus on the importance of genetic variation of viruses, and on the general concept of biological complexity.

© INRA, EDP Sciences, 2010.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for EDP Sciences Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk