Next step in the ongoing arms race between myxoma virus and wild rabbits in Australia is a novel disease phenotype

Peter J. Kerr, Isabella M. Cattadori, June Liu, Derek G. Sim, Jeff W. Dodds, Jason W. Brooks, Mary J. Kennett, Edward C. Holmes, Andrew F. Read

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

In host–pathogen arms races, increases in host resistance prompt counteradaptation by pathogens, but the nature of that counteradaptation is seldom directly observed outside of laboratory models. The best-documented field example is the coevolution of myxoma virus (MYXV) in European rabbits. To understand how MYXV in Australia has continued to evolve in wild rabbits under intense selection for genetic resistance to myxomatosis, we compared the phenotypes of the progenitor MYXV and viral isolates from the 1950s and the 1990s in laboratory rabbits with no resistance. Strikingly, and unlike their 1950s counterparts, most virus isolates from the 1990s induced a highly lethal immune collapse syndrome similar to septic shock. Thus, the next step in this canonical case of coevolution after a species jump has been further escalation by the virus in the face of widespread host resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9397-9402
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume114
Issue number35
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 29 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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