The evolution of epidemic influenza

Nat Rev Genet. 2007 Mar;8(3):196-205. doi: 10.1038/nrg2053. Epub 2007 Jan 30.


Recent developments in complete-genome sequencing, antigenic mapping and epidemiological modelling are greatly improving our knowledge of the evolution of human influenza virus at the epidemiological scale. In particular, recent studies have revealed a more complex relationship between antigenic evolution, natural selection and reassortment than previously realized. Despite these advances, there is much that remains to be understood about the epidemiology of influenza virus, particularly the processes that determine the virus's strong seasonality. We argue that a complete understanding of the evolutionary biology of this important human pathogen will require a genomic view of genetic diversity, including the acquisition of polymorphism data from within individual hosts and from geographical regions, particularly the tropics, which have been poorly surveyed to date.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Outbreaks* / history
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Genome, Viral / genetics*
  • Genomics
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Influenza A virus / genetics*
  • Influenza, Human / genetics*
  • Influenza, Human / history
  • Influenza, Human / mortality
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Seasons