Evolutionary analysis of the dynamics of viral infectious disease

Nat Rev Genet. 2009 Aug;10(8):540-50. doi: 10.1038/nrg2583.


Many organisms that cause infectious diseases, particularly RNA viruses, mutate so rapidly that their evolutionary and ecological behaviours are inextricably linked. Consequently, aspects of the transmission and epidemiology of these pathogens are imprinted on the genetic diversity of their genomes. Large-scale empirical analyses of the evolutionary dynamics of important pathogens are now feasible owing to the increasing availability of pathogen sequence data and the development of new computational and statistical methods of analysis. In this Review, we outline the questions that can be answered using viral evolutionary analysis across a wide range of biological scales.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Communicable Diseases / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Humans
  • RNA Viruses / genetics*
  • Virus Diseases / genetics*