West Nile virus is similar to most other RNA viruses in that it exists in nature as a genetically diverse population. However, the role of this genetic diversity within natural transmission cycles and its importance to virus perpetuation remain poorly understood. Therefore, we determined whether highly genetically diverse populations are more fit compared to less genetically diverse WNV populations. Specifically, we generated three WNV populations that varied in their genetic diversity and evaluated their fitness relative to genetically marked control WNV in vivo in Culex quinquefasciatus mosquitoes and chickens. Our results demonstrate that high genetic diversity leads to fitness gains in vector mosquitoes, but not chickens.
- West Nile virus
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