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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2024
  2. The dynamic nature of the SIV population during disease progression in the SIV/macaque model of AIDS and the factors responsible for its behavior have not been documented, largely owing to the lack of sufficient spatial and temporal sampling of both viral and host data from SIV-infected animals. In this study, we detail Bayesian coalescent inference of the changing collective intra-host viral effective population size ( N e ) from various tissues over the course of infection and its relationship with what we demonstrate is a continuously changing immune cell repertoire within the blood. Although the relative contribution of these factors varied among hosts and time points, the adaptive immune response best explained the overall periodic dynamic behavior of the effective virus population. Data exposing the nature of the relationship between the virus and immune cell populations revealed the plausibility of an eco-evolutionary mathematical model, which was able to mimic the large-scale oscillations in N e through virus escape from relatively few, early immunodominant responses, followed by slower escape from several subdominant and weakened immune populations. The results of this study suggest that SIV diversity within the untreated host is governed by a predator-prey relationship, wherein differing phases of infection are the result of adaptation in response to varying immune responses. Previous investigations into viral population dynamics using sequence data have focused on single estimates of the effective viral population size ( N e ) or point estimates over sparse sampling data to provide insight into the precise impact of immune selection on virus adaptive behavior. Herein, we describe the use of the coalescent phylogenetic frame- work to estimate the relative changes in N e over time in order to quantify the relationship with empirical data on the dynamic immune composition of the host. This relationship has allowed us to expand on earlier simulations to build a predator-prey model that explains the deterministic behavior of the virus over the course of disease progression. We show that sequential viral adaptation can occur in response to phases of varying immune pressure, providing a broader picture of the viral response throughout the entire course of progression to AIDS. 
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  3. Abstract We investigated SARS-CoV-2 transmission dynamics in Italy, one of the countries hit hardest by the pandemic, using phylodynamic analysis of viral genetic and epidemiological data. We observed the co-circulation of multiple SARS-CoV-2 lineages over time, which were linked to multiple importations and characterized by large transmission clusters concomitant with a high number of infections. Subsequent implementation of a three-phase nationwide lockdown strategy greatly reduced infection numbers and hospitalizations. Yet we present evidence of sustained viral spread among sporadic clusters acting as “hidden reservoirs” during summer 2020. Mathematical modelling shows that increased mobility among residents eventually catalyzed the coalescence of such clusters, thus driving up the number of infections and initiating a new epidemic wave. Our results suggest that the efficacy of public health interventions is, ultimately, limited by the size and structure of epidemic reservoirs, which may warrant prioritization during vaccine deployment. 
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  4. The spread of cholera in the midst of an epidemic is largely driven by direct transmission from person to person, although it is well-recognized that Vibrio cholerae is also capable of growth and long-term survival in aquatic ecosystems. While prior studies have shown that aquatic reservoirs are important in the persistence of the disease on the Indian subcontinent, an epidemiological view postulating that locally evolving environmental V. cholerae contributes to outbreaks outside Asia remains debated. The single-source introduction of toxigenic V. cholerae O1 in Haiti, one of the largest outbreaks occurring this century, with 812,586 suspected cases and 9,606 deaths reported through July 2018, provided a unique opportunity to evaluate the role of aquatic reservoirs and assess bacterial transmission dynamics across environmental boundaries. To this end, we investigated the phylogeography of both clinical and aquatic toxigenic V. cholerae O1 isolates and show robust evidence of the establishment of aquatic reservoirs as well as ongoing evolution of V. cholerae isolates from aquatic sites. Novel environmental lineages emerged from sequential population bottlenecks, carrying mutations potentially involved in adaptation to the aquatic ecosystem. Based on such empirical data, we developed a mixed-transmission dynamic model of V. cholerae , where aquatic reservoirs actively contribute to genetic diversification and epidemic emergence, which underscores the complexity of transmission pathways in epidemics and endemic settings and the need for long-term investments in cholera control at both human and environmental levels. 
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