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Review

The Remarkable Evolutionary Plasticity of Coronaviruses by Mutation and Recombination: Insights for the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Future Evolutionary Paths of SARS-CoV-2

1
Bioinformatics Laboratory, Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, University of Thessaly, 41500 Larissa, Greece
2
Laboratory of Molecular Immunology, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Democritus University of Thrace, University Campus-Dragana, 68100 Alexandroupolis, Greece
3
Microbial Biotechnology-Molecular Bacteriology-Virology Laboratory, Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, University of Thessaly, 41500 Larissa, Greece
4
Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, Sanger Building, 80 Tennis Court Road, Cambridge CB2 1GA, UK
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Ioannis Karakasiliotis, Apostolos Beloukas and Serafeim Chaintoutis
Viruses 2022, 14(1), 78; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14010078 (registering DOI)
Received: 23 November 2021 / Revised: 22 December 2021 / Accepted: 31 December 2021 / Published: 2 January 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Virus Research in Greece)
Coronaviruses (CoVs) constitute a large and diverse subfamily of positive-sense single-stranded RNA viruses. They are found in many mammals and birds and have great importance for the health of humans and farm animals. The current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, as well as many previous epidemics in humans that were of zoonotic origin, highlights the importance of studying the evolution of the entire CoV subfamily in order to understand how novel strains emerge and which molecular processes affect their adaptation, transmissibility, host/tissue tropism, and patho non-homologous genicity. In this review, we focus on studies over the last two years that reveal the impact of point mutations, insertions/deletions, and intratypic/intertypic homologous and non-homologous recombination events on the evolution of CoVs. We discuss whether the next generations of CoV vaccines should be directed against other CoV proteins in addition to or instead of spike. Based on the observed patterns of molecular evolution for the entire subfamily, we discuss five scenarios for the future evolutionary path of SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, within this evolutionary context, we discuss the recently emerged Omicron (B.1.1.529) VoC. View Full-Text
Keywords: coronavirus; SARS-CoV-2; COVID-19; evolution; recombination; point mutations; pandemic; vaccines; spike coronavirus; SARS-CoV-2; COVID-19; evolution; recombination; point mutations; pandemic; vaccines; spike
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MDPI and ACS Style

Amoutzias, G.D.; Nikolaidis, M.; Tryfonopoulou, E.; Chlichlia, K.; Markoulatos, P.; Oliver, S.G. The Remarkable Evolutionary Plasticity of Coronaviruses by Mutation and Recombination: Insights for the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Future Evolutionary Paths of SARS-CoV-2. Viruses 2022, 14, 78. https://doi.org/10.3390/v14010078

AMA Style

Amoutzias GD, Nikolaidis M, Tryfonopoulou E, Chlichlia K, Markoulatos P, Oliver SG. The Remarkable Evolutionary Plasticity of Coronaviruses by Mutation and Recombination: Insights for the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Future Evolutionary Paths of SARS-CoV-2. Viruses. 2022; 14(1):78. https://doi.org/10.3390/v14010078

Chicago/Turabian Style

Amoutzias, Grigorios D., Marios Nikolaidis, Eleni Tryfonopoulou, Katerina Chlichlia, Panayotis Markoulatos, and Stephen G. Oliver. 2022. "The Remarkable Evolutionary Plasticity of Coronaviruses by Mutation and Recombination: Insights for the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Future Evolutionary Paths of SARS-CoV-2" Viruses 14, no. 1: 78. https://doi.org/10.3390/v14010078

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