Arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses), such as Zika virus, chikungunya virus, and West Nile virus (WNV), pose continuous threats to emerge and cause large epidemics. Often, these events are associated with novel virus variants optimized for local transmission that first arise as minorities within a host. Thus, the conditions that regulate the frequency of intrahost variants are important determinants of emergence. Here, we describe the dynamics of WNV genetic diversity during its transmission cycle. By temporally sampling saliva from individual mosquitoes, we demonstrate that virus populations expectorated by mosquitoes are highly diverse and unique to each feeding episode. After transmission to birds, however, most genetic diversity is removed by strong purifying selection. Further, transmission of potentially mosquito-adaptive WNV variants is strongly influenced by genetic drift in mosquitoes. These results highlight the complex evolutionary forces a novel virus variant must overcome to alter infection phenotypes at the population level.
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Grubaugh, Nathan D.; Fauver, Joseph R.; Rückert, Claudia; Weger-Lucarelli, James; Garcia-Luna, Selene; Murrieta, Reyes A.; Gendernalik, Alex; Smith, Darci R.; Brackney, Doug E.; and Ebel, Gregory D., "Mosquitoes Transmit Unique West Nile Virus Populations During Each Feeding Episode" (2017). Journal Articles: Epidemiology. 79.