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Mol Gen Genet. 1996 Oct 28;252(6):733-8.

Repeated transfer of small RNA virus populations leading to balanced fitness with infrequent stochastic drift.

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Department of Biology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093-0116, USA.


The population dynamics of RNA viruses have an important influence on fitness variation and, in consequence, on the adaptative potential and virulence of this ubiquitous group of pathogens. Earlier work with vesicular stomatitis virus showed that large population transfers were reproducibly associated with fitness increases, whereas repeated transfers from plaque to plaque (genetic bottlenecks) lead to losses in fitness. We demonstrate here that repeated five-plaque to five-plaque passage series yield long-term fitness stability, except for occasional stochastic fitness jumps. Repeated five-plaque passages regularly alternating with two consecutive large population transmissions did not cause fitness losses, but did limit the size of fitness gains that would otherwise have occurred. These results underscore the profound effects of bottleneck transmissions in virus evolution.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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