AsianScientist (May 20, 2015) – The Ebola virus rapidly evolved in Sierra Leone between July and November 2014, according to a study recently published in Nature.
The 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa shocked the entire world, causing over 25,000 human infections and leaving over 10,000 dead. In September 2014, the Chinese government dispatched the China Mobile Laboratory Testing Team upon the request of the Sierra Leone government. From September to November, the Chinese teams collected over 3,000 samples, with over 800 testing positive for the Ebola virus.
Using Ebola genome sequences from five severely stricken districts in Sierra Leone, a team of scientists led by Professors George F. Gao and Liu Di of the Institute of Microbiology of Chinese Academy of Sciences, has tracked the evolution and genetic diversity of the Ebola virus.
In order to depict the virus transmission linkage/network in West Sierra Leone and to discern the phylodynamics of the Ebola virus, the researchers sequenced 175 full-length virus genomes. One of their key findings is that the Ebola virus evolves at a steady evolutionary rate. Although an earlier dataset estimating a faster evolutionary rate of the virus had raised concerns that virus would become more harmful, the present study claims that virus evolved at a speed comparable to previous outbreaks.
Moreover, scientists noticed that serial nucleotide substitutions were present in some patients, which possibly occurred due to the same evolutionary events. The mechanisms underlying these observations need further investigation.
This study provided new insights into the Ebola virus evolution in West Africa. Understanding the genetic diversity and evolutionary dynamics would greatly aid the public to fight against Ebola.
The article can be found at: Tong et al. (2015) Genetic Diversity And Evolutionary Dynamics Of Ebola Virus In Sierra Leone.
Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences.
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