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Reviews of "Crossing Host Boundaries: The Evolutionary Drivers and Correlates of Viral Host Jumps"

Reviewers: C Brook (University of Chicago) | 📗📗📗📗◻️ • B Foley (Los Alamos National Laboratory) | 📒📒📒◻️◻️

Published onOct 30, 2023
Reviews of "Crossing Host Boundaries: The Evolutionary Drivers and Correlates of Viral Host Jumps"
key-enterThis Pub is a Review of
Crossing host boundaries: the evolutionary drivers and correlates of viral host jumps
Crossing host boundaries: the evolutionary drivers and correlates of viral host jumps
Description

Abstract Most emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases stem from viruses that naturally circulate in non-human vertebrates. When these viruses cross over into humans, they can cause disease outbreaks and epidemics. While zoonotic host jumps have been extensively studied from an ecological perspective, little attention has gone into characterising the evolutionary drivers and correlates underlying these events. To address this gap, we harnessed the entirety of publicly available viral genomic data, employing a comprehensive suite of network and phylogenetic analyses. We address a series of questions concerning the evolutionary mechanisms underpinning viral host jumps. Notably, we challenge conventional assumptions about the directionality of host jumps, demonstrating that humans are as much a source as a sink for viral spillover events, insofar we infer more viruses to have jumped from humans to other animals, than from animals to humans. Moreover, we demonstrate heightened evolution in viral lineages that involve putative host jumps. We further observe that the mutational threshold associated with a host jump is lower for viruses with broad host ranges. Finally, we show that the genomic targets of natural selection upon a successful host jump vary across different viral families with either structural or auxiliary genes being the prime targets of selection. Collectively, our results illuminate some of the evolutionary drivers underlying viral host jumps that may contribute to mitigating viral threats across species boundaries.

To read the original manuscript, click the link above.

Summary of Reviews: This preprint concludes that human-to-animal viral transmission exceeds zoonotic transmission, based on phylogenetic analysis of genomic databases. However, reviewers caution that biases in available sequences may impact reconstructing transmission histories. They recommend the authors validate findings using Bayesian phylogenetics on subsets of data, account for gaps due to intermediate hosts, and clarify analysis limitations. Additionally, reviewers suggest breaking down transmission patterns by host taxa and route to provide more nuanced insights. Overall, they find the topic important but advise strengthening methodology and interpretation to address potential biases in genomic databases.

Reviewer 1 (Cara B…) | 📗📗📗📗◻️

Reviewer 2 (Brian F…) | 📒📒📒 ◻️◻️

RR:C19 Strength of Evidence Scale Key

📕 ◻️◻️◻️◻️ = Misleading

📙📙 ◻️◻️◻️ = Not Informative

📒📒📒 ◻️◻️ = Potentially Informative

📗📗📗📗◻️ = Reliable

📘📘📘📘📘 = Strong

To read the reviews, click the links below. 

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