Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

One Virus Particle Is Enough To Cause Infectious Disease

Date:
March 14, 2009
Source:
Wageningen University and Research Centre
Summary:
Can exposure to a single virus particle lead to infection or disease? Until now, solid proof has been lacking. Experimental research with insect larvae has shown that one virus particle is theoretically enough to cause infection and subsequent disease.

This colorized scanning electron micrograph (SEM) reveals the "rosettelike" appearance of the matured SARS-CoV (coronavirus) particles (arrows). New research shows that one virus particle is theoretically enough to cause infection and subsequent disease.
Credit: Dr. Mary Ng Mah Lee

Can exposure to a single virus particle lead to infection or disease? Until now, solid proof has been lacking. Experimental research with insect larvae at Wageningen University and Simon Fraser University in Canada has shown that one virus particle is theoretically enough to cause infection and subsequent disease.

A virus population is usually composed of a collection of variants of virus particles. In order to  investigate whether virus particles (virions) can cause an infection independently from each other, and therefore individually, the researchers set up an experiment with two 'marked' virus variants. They exposed a population of hosts (caterpillars) to both variants.

The experiment showed that exposure to a low dosage of virus particles resulted in a small number host infections (20%). The majority of these hosts (86%) turned out to be infected by a single virus genotype. In contrast, exposure to a high dosage of virus particles resulted in virtually all the hosts (99%) becoming infected, where most of the hosts were infected by both types of virus. Only 14% were infected by only one of the two variants.

Based on the assumption that every virus particle operates independently from all other virus particles, the researchers set up a probability model. This model predicts how many virus particles have caused an infection and how many different virus genotypes are present in infected hosts, such as plants, insects or people. The results of the infection experiment with the susceptible insects are in agreement with the model predictions. From this it can be derived that the virus particles have an independent effect, and that a single virus particle can indeed cause infection and/or disease.

If there are few virus particles that lead to an infection, the number of virus particles determines the degree of diversity that can be present within the host. This is an important finding because the interactions between virus variants, such as competition and exchanging genetic information, determine the progression of disease and the evolution of the virus.

Until now, it was unclear whether a virus must be seen as an individual that can infect a host independently, or whether a cloud of viruses 'cooperates' to cause an infection. It is not yet known if the viruses that affect people can also act individually, but this research shows that it is possible.

The researchers recently published this finding in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wageningen University and Research Centre. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Mark P Zwart, Lia Hemerik, Jenny S Cory, J. Arjan G.M de Visser, Felix J.J.A Bianchi, Monique M Van Oers, Just M Vlak, Rolf F Hoekstra, and Wopke Van der Werf. An experimental test of the independent action hypothesis in virus%u2013insect pathosystems. Proc. R. Soc. B, 2009; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2009.0064

Cite This Page:

Wageningen University and Research Centre. "One Virus Particle Is Enough To Cause Infectious Disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090313150254.htm>.
Wageningen University and Research Centre. (2009, March 14). One Virus Particle Is Enough To Cause Infectious Disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090313150254.htm
Wageningen University and Research Centre. "One Virus Particle Is Enough To Cause Infectious Disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090313150254.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 20, 2014) — A patient who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus is in isolation at the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 20, 2014) — Forget rolling on rubber, could car drivers soon be traveling on tires made from dandelions? Teams of scientists are racing to breed a type of the yellow flower whose taproot has a milky fluid with tire-grade rubber particles in it. As Joanna Partridge reports, global tire makers are investing millions in research into a new tire source. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — Poachers have killed 100,000 elephants between 2010 and 2012, as the booming ivory trade takes its toll on the animals in Africa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) — Scientists have developed a new device that mimics the way octopuses blend in with their surroundings to hide from dangerous predators. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins