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.

Related Articles


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 November 25, 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 November 25, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

AFP (Nov. 25, 2014) Phnom Penh's only working elephant was blessed by a crowd of chanting Buddhist monks Tuesday as she prepared for a life of comfortable jungle retirement after three decades of giving rides to tourists. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Buzz60 (Nov. 24, 2014) A Swedish Adventure racing team travels to try and win a world title, but comes home with something way better: a stray dog that joined the team for much of the grueling 430-mile race. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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