What is it about?
The overall idea is that large numbers of genomes, 50,000 when we did the study, contain non-trivial information that can be retrieved by a global method. The global method means that all the variations in all the genomes at once are fit to one and the same model. According to classical results due to Motoo Kimura from the 1960s, these pairwise terms are directly related to pairwise fitness. They hence point to combinatorial dependencies and potential combinatorial weaknesses in e.g. pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2. Our work also highlights the pioneering contribution of Kimura to the population biology of highly recombinant organisms.
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Why is it important?
The global pandemic of COVID19 is a worldwide threat to human health and the world economy. Any new tool that can help fight the pandemic is potentially important, even if still in the form of basic research. Our work also demonstrates that more information than usually done can be obtained from all the SARS-CoV-2 genomes collected and deposited in standard repositories such as GISAID.
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This page is a summary of: Global analysis of more than 50,000 SARS-CoV-2 genomes reveals epistasis between eight viral genes, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, November 2020, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2012331117.
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