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Genetic Trees Reveal Disease Origins

Science  11 May 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5519, pp. 1090-1093
DOI: 10.1126/science.292.5519.1090

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Summary

By analyzing genetic variation and constructing evolutionary trees of infectious organisms, researchers are turning conventional wisdom about when some diseases arose on its head. More clues come from the geographical distribution of different strains of a pathogen, which can show where it originated and how it subsequently spread. And by discovering closely related pathogens in animal hosts, researchers are gaining new insights into when they first jumped into the human race.

(An archive of articles and Web resources related to the themes of this special issue can be found at www.sciencemag.org/feature/data/diseases/index.shtml)

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