How New Viruses Evolve and Might Become Deadly

A research team at Michigan State University (MSU) has demonstrated how a new virus evolves - shedding light on how easy it can be for diseases to gain dangerous mutations. The scientists showed how the virus called 'Lambda' evolved to find a new way to attack host cells, an innovation that took four mutations to accomplish. This virus infects bacteria, in particular the common E. coli bacterium. Lambda isn't dangerous to humans, but this research demonstrated how viruses evolve complex and potentially deadly new traits, noted Justin Meyer, an MSU graduate student who worked on the research with Richard Lenski, MSU Hannah Distinguished Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics.