Molecular Biology of RNA Viruses Isolated in Antarctica
RNA viruses exist as collections of closely related viral genomes, termed quasispecies, subjected to a continuous process of genetic variation, competition among the variants generated, and selection of the most fitted distributions in a given environment. Large population sizes and high evolutionary rates make RNA viruses unique. Detailed studies on the molecular biology and evolution of RNA viruses are extremely important for our understanding of the role of these viruses in Antarctica, as well as to gain insight into their emergence and spread. Antarctic ecosystems are dominated by microorganisms, where RNA viruses play an important role as an active, persistent, and important component of the aquatic microbial community, both at Antarctic sea and freshwater environments. RNA virus infection of Antarctic wildlife is more significant than previously anticipated, where at least members of five different RNA virus families have been identified. RNA plant viruses have been also observed. Recent studies reveal the introduction, persistence, and evolution of emerging RNA viruses of extreme importance for human and/or animal health in Antarctica. To determine the role of Antarctica in the global emergence of these viruses is extremely important for the development of appropriate strategies to control infection caused by these viruses.
KeywordsRNA viruses Emergence and spread of virus Paramyxoviridae Orthomyxoviridae Birnaviridae Flaviviridae Togaviridae
JC acknowledge the support from Comisión Sectorial de Investigación Cientifica (CSIC), through CSIC Grupos program, and PEDECIBA, Universidad de la República. I also acknowledge the support from Agencia Nacional de Investigación e Innovación (ANII) and Sistema Nacional de Investigadores, Uruguay.
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