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A brown and gray Daubenton’s bat in midair, flying in the general direction of the camera with wings outstretched and mouth open.
Duplicated Gene Helps Bats Survive “Arms Race” With Viruses
Bats are known for staying healthy even while harboring viral infections. Now, research sheds light on how their unusual immune system evolved.
Duplicated Gene Helps Bats Survive “Arms Race” With Viruses
Duplicated Gene Helps Bats Survive “Arms Race” With Viruses

Bats are known for staying healthy even while harboring viral infections. Now, research sheds light on how their unusual immune system evolved.

Bats are known for staying healthy even while harboring viral infections. Now, research sheds light on how their unusual immune system evolved.

virus evolution
A translucent illustration of the BA.2.75 subvariant of SARS-CoV-2 against a black background
Experts Mixed on Risk of “Centaurus” Omicron Subvariant
Dan Robitzski | Aug 15, 2022 | 3 min read
BA.2.75 is spreading rampantly in India and has so far reached at least 20 other countries, but it doesn’t seem to be outcompeting other Omicron SARS-CoV-2 subvariants.
small brown mammal with long nose
What Is This New Langya Virus? Do We Need to Be Worried?
Allen Cheng, The Conversation | Aug 11, 2022 | 3 min read
Here’s what we know so far about a new virus detected in eastern China.
metallic-looking illustration of coronavirus structure
How the Omicron Subvariant BA.5 Became a Master of Disguise—and What It Means for the Current COVID-19 Surge
Suresh V. Kuchipudi, The Conversation | Jul 26, 2022 | 4 min read
Several mechanisms contribute to the increased transmissibility of this SARS-CoV-2 variant.
Woman in face shield and blue gown taking cotton swab of patient's mouth while patient sits inside of car
What You Should Know About New Omicron Subvariants
Natalia Mesa, PhD | May 17, 2022 | 6 min read
The presence and spread of new, more-infectious and immune-evading variants show that the coronavirus is not done mutating.
Metal shelves densely packed with preserved tissue specimens of various sizes, all suspended in glass containers.
Evolution of 1918 Flu Virus Traced from Century-Old Samples
Dan Robitzski | May 10, 2022 | 5 min read
The work reveals that the pandemic flu was likely the direct predecessor of the seasonal H1N1 flu that circulated for decades.
Illustration of a targeted virus over a world map
The Hunt for a Pandemic’s Origins
Martha Nelson | Jan 4, 2022 | 10+ min read
Dozens of researchers, including myself, worked for years to uncover that swine flu had leapt to humans from a pig in Mexico in 2009. We learned a lot about influenza evolution, pig farming, and outbreak risk along the way.
Illustration of a world map showing a truck going from the US to Mexico, a plane going from Europe to Mexico, and a pig surrounded by various viruses in Mexico
Infographic: How H1N1 Came to Spark a Pandemic in 2009
Martha Nelson | Jan 4, 2022 | 2 min read
The pathogen known as swine flu evolved in pigs in Mexico following imports of the livestock from the US and Europe.
An illustration with a world map, pigs, and viruses
Timeline: Investigating the Origins of the 2009 Pandemic
Martha Nelson | Jan 4, 2022 | 3 min read
Seven years of surveillance and research revealed the complex history of the H1N1 virus that leapt from pigs to humans and sparked the global swine flu outbreak.
Illustration of various colored viruses
Omicron Appears to Evade Vaccines Better Than Other Variants
Jef Akst | Dec 14, 2021 | 3 min read
Preliminary studies suggest that existing vaccines falter in preventing symptomatic infections caused by the new coronavirus variant, but protection against severe disease is still high.
Artist’s renderings of SARS-CoV-2 float in front of a map showing the origins of various variants of the virus.
Omicron Is WHO’s Fifth Variant of Concern, Experts Urge Patience
Dan Robitzski | Nov 30, 2021 | 4 min read
Preliminary data suggest that the newly dubbed Omicron variant may be more infectious than previous versions of the virus, but it will take time to obtain the reliable data needed to answer pressing questions about its biology.
a veterinarian in a white hazmat suit holding a small pig
The Long Journey to Resolve the Origins of a Previous Pandemic
Martha Nelson | Sep 2, 2021 | 10+ min read
Dozens of researchers, including myself, worked for years to uncover that swine flu had leapt to humans from a pig in Mexico in 2009. We learned a lot about influenza evolution, pig farming, and outbreak risk along the way.
three children outside with winter gear wearing surgical masks
The Pandemic Crushed the Flu—What Happens When It Returns?
Diana Kwon | Jul 7, 2021 | 8 min read
Cases of influenza and other respiratory viruses sank dramatically during the pandemic, with potential implications for both people and pathogens.  
coronavirus particles in a variety of colors with a world map in background
What Scientists Know About the B.1.617 Coronavirus Variant
Shawna Williams | May 3, 2021 | 2 min read
While some experts speculate the variant could be partially responsible for India’s current surge in SARS-CoV-2 infections, information about the effects of its mutations is only beginning to emerge.
An illustration of an orange bacteriophage virus sitting on top of a green bacterium
Some Viruses Use an Alternative Genetic Alphabet
Abby Olena, PhD | Apr 29, 2021 | 4 min read
In a trio of studies, researchers follow up on a 40-year-old finding that certain bacteriophages replace adenine with so-called diaminopurine, perhaps to avoid host degradation.
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Ebola, virus, Guinea, West Africa, outbreak
Ebola Outbreak in Guinea Originated from Past Epidemic
Asher Jones | Mar 15, 2021 | 2 min read
Genetic analyses suggest that the virus came from a patient who survived the 2013–2016 West African outbreak.
COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, pandemic, research, reverse genetics, toolkit, antibodies, RNA
Q&A: A Molecular Toolkit to Build SARS-CoV-2 Research Capacity
Asher Jones | Mar 3, 2021 | 6 min read
Sam Wilson discusses a user-friendly set of resources that he and his collaborators developed to aid labs pivoting to study COVID-19.
a sign reading "Please keep your distance"
Data Hint B.1.1.7 Could Be More Deadly Than Thought
Shawna Williams | Jan 25, 2021 | 2 min read
In addition to being more transmissible, the variant now dominant in the UK may be about 30 percent more deadly than previous strains, but much uncertainty remains.
SARS-CoV-2 Genetic Variant May Be More Transmissible
Abby Olena, PhD | Nov 25, 2020 | 4 min read
The so-called 614G mutation in the viral spike protein does not appear to cause more severe cases of COVID-19, but multiple studies indicate that it could be more contagious.
More SARS-CoV-2 Reinfections Reported, But Still a Rare Event
Ashley Yeager | Oct 26, 2020 | 5 min read
Repeat COVID-19 cases could offer clues about people’s immunity to the novel coronavirus and how to vaccinate against it.
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