Herpes viruses hedge their bets: latency boosts survival

Herpes viruses have two infectious phases: one just after infecting a new host, and one years or decades later when they reactivate.

According Michael Stumpf (UCL), Zoe Laidlaw (University of Sheffield), and Vincent Jansen (Royal Holloway, University of London), that latency period evolved because it allows the viruses to flourish when the availability of hosts from year to year is highly unpredictable.

Until now, scientists have thought that viruses like herpes simplex 1 and 2, Epstein-Barr virus, and varicella zoster virus, which causes chickenpox and shingles, had evolved latency periods in order to allow them to survive in small host populations.

The new research offers an alternative explanation: the viruses are hedging their bets against the possibility that a sudden outbreak immunises a large part of the population thus drastically reducing the pool of potential hosts. Even in large populations this makes the world very unpredictable from the point view of the virus. The researchers used a mathematical model of how the virus spreads through host populations to determine whether viruses with latency periods could out-compete viruses without latency periods. They found that viruses with latency periods had an evolutionary advantage when the availability of hosts was unpredictable: generally the more unpredictable the environment the more important latency became.

Such dynamics are not limited to viruses: there are many situations, for example portfolio and fund management where a balance between action and patience has to be struck. The present piece of research suggests that successful strategies may often be embarassingly simple: be patient and save something to see you through leaner years.

Media Contact

Katie Price alfa

Alle Nachrichten aus der Kategorie: Health and Medicine

This subject area encompasses research and studies in the field of human medicine.

Among the wide-ranging list of topics covered here are anesthesiology, anatomy, surgery, human genetics, hygiene and environmental medicine, internal medicine, neurology, pharmacology, physiology, urology and dental medicine.

Zurück zur Startseite

Kommentare (0)

Schreib Kommentar

Neueste Beiträge

Scientists solve big limitation of stratospheric balloon payloads

How do you cool a large telescope to absolute zero while flying it from a huge balloon at 130,000 feet? Nearly all photons emitted after the Big Bang are now…

Pumping a nanoparticle to lase at low power

A single nanoparticle can act like a laser at low power but still emit a sharp signal. Lasers are used in a range of everyday devices, harnessing the power of…

Ultrasensitive transistor for herbicide detection in water

A new polymer-based, solid-state transistor can more sensitively detect a weed killer in drinking water than existing hydrogel-based fluorescence sensor chips. The details were published in Chemistry-A European Journal. The…

Partners

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close