Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 11 (11), e1005221

Ebolavirus Evolution: Past and Present


Ebolavirus Evolution: Past and Present

Marc-Antoine de La Vega et al. PLoS Pathog.


The past year has marked the most devastating Ebola outbreak the world has ever witnessed, with over 28,000 cases and over 11,000 deaths. Ebola virus (EBOV) has now been around for almost 50 years. In this review, we discuss past and present outbreaks of EBOV and how those variants evolved over time. We explore and discuss selective pressures that drive the evolution of different Ebola variants, and how they may modify the efficacy of therapeutic treatments and vaccines currently being developed. Finally, given the unprecedented size and spread of the outbreak, as well as the extended period of replication in human hosts, specific attention is given to the 2014-2015 West African outbreak variant (Makona).

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Fig 1
Fig 1. Ebolavirus outbreaks past and present.
(A) The geographic map of Africa and the bottom histogram illustrate the number of cases, deaths, and the geographic distribution of several Ebola viruses including Reston (RESTV), Tai Forest (TAFV), Ebola (EBOV, formerly Zaire), Sudan (SUDV), and Bundibugyo (BDBV). The histogram in the top right (B) is a review of the calculated evolutionary rates available for EBOV, EBOV-Makona, SUDV, and RESTV from various publications.
Fig 2
Fig 2. Phylogenetic comparison of Filoviridae variants past and present.
A phylogenetic analysis was undertaken of Filoviridae members from various historical outbreaks as well as the recent 2014–2015 West African outbreak. Thirty-one whole genome sequences were aligned using Clustal Omega 1.2 and visualized in Figtree 1.4.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 23 articles

See all "Cited by" articles


    1. Slenczka W, Klenk HD (2007) Forty years of marburg virus. J Infect Dis 196 Suppl: S131–S135. - PubMed
    1. WHO (1978) Ebola haemorrhagic fever in Sudan, 1976. Bull World Health Organ. 56(2):247–70. - PMC - PubMed
    1. WHO (1978) Ebola heamorrhagic fever in Zaire, 1976. Bull World Health Organ. 56(2): 271–293. - PMC - PubMed
    1. Qiu X, Wong G, Audet J, Bello A, Fernando L, et al. (2014) Reversion of advanced Ebola virus disease in nonhuman primates with ZMapp. Nature 514(7520):47–53. 10.1038/nature13777 - DOI - PMC - PubMed
    1. Wong G, Kobinger GP (2015) Backs against the Wall: Novel and Existing Strategies Used during the 2014–2015 Ebola Virus Outbreak. Clin Microbiol Rev 28: 593–601. 10.1128/CMR.00014-15 - DOI - PMC - PubMed

Publication types