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H5N1 molecular evolution

Research Achievements

H5N1 molecular evolution

In an innovative doctoral dissertation, IGERT trainee Margaret Carrel combined theory and methods from population genetics, medical geography and landscape ecology to explore the spatiotemporal patterns and population-environment drivers of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza molecular evolution. Carrel linked higher rates of genetic change in H5N1 viruses to a combination of population and environmental characteristics, including the human population density and the amount of land devoted to aquaculture. Such findings suggest that it is the raising of ducks, and their travel outside of the household to water surfaces, and the high levels of population density in rural Vietnam, that contribute not only to the persistence of H5N1 in the environment but also to its rate of molecular change.