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Hot Zone Question

caross at utdallas.edu caross at utdallas.edu
Wed Mar 22 10:50:50 EST 1995

Always Learning (3ni9boscoj at vms.csd.mu.edu) wrote:
: In article <Pine.3.89.9503191213.A12382-0100000 at coop.crn.org>, mowjmat at COOP.CRN.ORG (Biology Department) writes:
: >
: >In article <deirdre at deeny.MV.COM> _Deirdre writes:
: >What fascinates me is the thesis that this may be a disease naturally
: >hosted in big game (e.g. leopards or elephants) and that, because numbers
: >of the natural host are dwindling, it's jumping species to something more
: >available.
: ....snip....
: > It seems to me that a  larger
: >population of viral carriers would yield a larger population of viruses, 
: >thus the chance for favorable-random mutations is increased when the host 
: >population is increased.  The latter analysis is contrary to the statement 
: >above--i was just wondering how decrease in host population could 
: >enhance host transfer.
: >
: >Jeff Huckaby
: >Molecular Biology
: >William Jewell College
: >Liberty, MO 64068
: >USA
: >eMail mowjmat at coop.crn.org

: Hi Jeff,

: Would I be able to convice you with an argument of Adapt or Die!
: In the survival of the fittest, those strains that have been able to adapt to a
: new host will start in small numbers. Very small numbers in fact.  But when
: they others die out, b/c of lack of hosts. Only the newer strains will be
: around to cause trouble.

: I am aware that this is WAY oversimplified. ergo. no flames please. Intellegent
: comments always welcome.

: Jim=Always Learning

Not that I am an expert on virology, but the original poster has the right 
idea. The viruses capable of doing so are always ready to jump to a new host, 
regardless of original host number. As I see it, dwindling numbers has nothing
to do with it (and in fact discourages jumping hosts by minimizing cross-
species contacts), except that the dwindling numbers are for the most part 
caused by incursions of new species into their territory. Its the contact with
the new species that allows capable strains to jump hosts. 

The viruses are not intelligent, and don't say, well, we've got dwindling host
numbers, lets jump ship. They're just ready to jump to a new host, and those
are the ones that we see doing it.

Christian A. Ross <caross at utdallas.edu>

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