Viral population dynamics and virulence thresholds

Karen Z. Lancaster, Julie K. Pfeiffer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Viral factors and host barriers influence virally induced disease, and asymptomatic versus symptomatic infection is governed by a 'virulence threshold'. Understanding modulation of virulence thresholds could lend insight into disease outcome and aid in rational therapeutic and vaccine design. RNA viruses are an excellent system to study virulence thresholds in the context of quasispecies population dynamics. RNA viruses have high error frequencies and our understanding of viral population dynamics has been shaped by quasispecies evolutionary theory. In turn, research using RNA viruses as replicons with short generation times and high mutation rates has been an invaluable tool to test models of quasispecies theory. The challenge and new frontier of RNA virus population dynamics research is to combine multiple theoretical models and experimental data to describe viral population behavior as it changes, moving within and between hosts, to predict disease and pathogen emergence. Several excellent studies have begun to undertake this challenge using novel approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)525-530
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Microbiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


Dive into the research topics of 'Viral population dynamics and virulence thresholds'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this