Viral host jumps: Humans to animals transmission more common than previously thought

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In a caller study published successful Nature Ecology & Evolution, researchers harnessed publically disposable viral genomic data, utilizing a broad suite of web and phylogenetic analyses to analyse nan evolutionary mechanisms underpinning caller viral big jumps.

 Kateryna Kon/Shutterstock.comStudy: The evolutionary drivers and correlates of viral big jumps. Image Credit: Kateryna Kon/


Viruses recovered successful non-human vertebrates often origin infectious diseases, outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics erstwhile they dispersed to individuals. Zoonotic big jumps, aliases nan transmission of viruses from chaotic and home animal populations to people, person considerably impacted quality health.

Current knowledge is insufficient to forecast, prevent, and power early infectious illness concerns since only a mini proportionality of nan viral assortment has been defined, pinch surveillance studies lacking geographical and temporal coverage. Understanding nan evolutionary processes underlying big leaps whitethorn thief trim these impacts.

About nan study

In nan coming study, researchers analyzed 12 cardinal sequenced viruses and big accusation provided by nan National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) to measure worldwide viral genomic monitoring.

They identified overarching patterns successful viral big jump directionality among humans and non-human vertebrate organisms and assessed observable adaptability associated pinch imaginable big jumps.

The researchers investigated adaptive improvement signs successful viral proteins that facilitate aliases support big leaps. They obtained accusation connected each viral sequences disposable connected NCBI Virus (n = 11,645,803) to find nan grade of acquired viral genomic information.

The researchers past collected 58,657 quality-controlled viral genomes from NCBI Virus, covering 32 viral families and 62 vertebrate big orders, accounting for 24% of each vertebrate viral species.

They utilized a species-agnostic web mentation method to place viral cliques that are discrete taxonomic groupings pinch akin levels of familial variation.

The researchers recovered imaginable big jumps wrong these viral cliques utilizing curated whole-genome alignments and maximum-likelihood phylogenetic reconstruction.

They accounted for nan astir predominant directional action measurement astatine nan genome level, i.e., nan proportionality of non-synonymous-type amino acerb substitutions successful each non-synonymous region (dN) to that of synonymous substitutions for each synonymous tract (dS).

The researchers investigated whether nan strength of action associated pinch a big hop reduces for viruses pinch wide big ranges. They utilized a linear exemplary to foretell log10 (dN/dS) differences betwixt big and non-host leaps and clique rank effects to estimate imaginable adjustment signals associated pinch lineages that person knowledgeable big jumps for nan various cistron categories.

The researchers expected that wrong each gene, adaptative alterations would beryllium constricted to functionally captious areas aliases subjected to importantly higher selective pressures from big immunity.


The study recovered that individuals are some a root and a descend for viral spillover events, pinch much viral big transfers from humans to different type than from animals to humans.

For viruses pinch greater big ranges, nan level of adjustment associated pinch a big jump is smaller, pinch structural aliases auxiliary genes serving arsenic superior action targets. The activity exposes sizeable gaps successful worldwide viral genomic animal surveillance, underscoring nan request for meticulous sample metadata reporting.

The bulk of viral sequences successful NCBI (68%) were linked to nan terrible acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), demonstrating extended sequencing during nan coronavirus illness 2019 (COVID-19).

This postulation contained 93% of vertebrate-related viral sequences, and astir (93%) were associated pinch humans. The 4 viruses pinch nan astir sequenced genomes (Gallus, Sus, Anas, and Bos) were linked to home animals, and 15% of viral sequences were from vertebrates.

User-uploaded big metadata for viral sequences remains inadequate, pinch 37% and 45% of viral genomic sequences from non-human hosts lacking related big accusation astatine nan sample postulation play and genus levels, respectively. The fraction of missing accusation varies importantly betwixt microorganism families and nations.

The researchers discovered 5,128 viral cliques spanning 32 viral families highly akin to ICTV-defined species. Despite nan human-centric quality of genomic monitoring, viral cliques involving conscionable animals relationship for 62% of each cliques, demonstrating nan wide scope of animal viruses successful nan worldwide viral-sharing network.

The study showed that nan minimal mutational region for a putative big leap wrong each viral clique was overmuch higher than that of non-host jumps, showing that adjustment measurements were not biased.

The observed big scope for each viral clique was favorably correlated pinch higher sequencing intensity, indicating a important affirmative narration betwixt nan inter-host diverseness of viral organisms and surveillance efforts.

The strength of adjustment signals differed by family, pinch structural proteins successful coronaviruses showing nan highest signals and auxiliary proteins successful paramyxoviruses.


The study findings show that genomic information successful nan nationalist domain helps understand viral big jumps, but location are gaps successful knowing viral diversity. 81% of imaginable big jumps identified do not impact humans, highlighting nan world viral-sharing network's scale.

Investigating nan travel of viruses wrong this web could supply insights into managing infectious illness emergence astatine nan human-animal interface. The study recovered that humans transmit much viral organisms to animals than humans, and multi-host virus-host jumps require less adaptations.

The taxonomy-agnostic attack identified cliques accordant pinch accepted viral type nomenclature but besides highlighted inconsistencies. Monitoring human-to-animal transmission of viruses is important for managing infectious diseases.

Journal reference:

  • Tan, C.C.S., van Dorp, L., & Balloux, F. (2024) The evolutionary drivers and correlates of viral big jumps. Nat Ecol Evol. doi: