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为什么蛇可能不是新冠病毒的中间宿主

  A team of researchers pointed to the many-banded krait snake as one possible source of the coronavirus that originated in Asia.Credit:Alamy

  一组研究人员指出,这种银环蛇可能是亚洲爆发的冠状病毒的一种可能来源。

  As human cases rise in a mysterious viral outbreak that originated in China,scientists are rushing to identify the animals,where they suspect the epidemic began.In a controversial study published last night,a team of researchers in China claimed to have an answer:snakes.

  随着中国爆发的神秘病毒疫情出现人类病例,科学家们急切聚力,想要找出他们怀疑是引爆本次疫情的动物。在昨晚发表的一项有争议的研究中,一组中国研究人员声称找到了答案:蛇。

  But other scientists say there is no proof that viruses such as those behind the outbreak can infect species other than mammals and birds.“Nothing supports snakes being involved,”says David Robertson,a virologist at the University of Glasgow,UK.

  但是其他科学家认为暂无证据表明此次爆发背后的神秘病毒可以感染哺乳动物和鸟类以外的物种。英国格拉斯哥大学的病毒学家戴维·罗伯森(David Robertson)说:“指向蛇类毫无证据。”

  The pathogen responsible for the outbreak belongs to a large family called coronaviruses,which includes the viruses that cause severe acute respiratory syndrome(SARS)and Middle East respiratory syndrome(MERS),as well as those behind the common cold.The latest virus—currently known as 2019-nCoV—is most closely related to SARS and related viruses that circulate in bats.But these can also infect other animals that can pass the virus to humans.Many scientists suspect that an unknown animal carrying 2019-nCoV spread the virus to humans at a live seafood and wild animal market in Wuhan,where the first cases were documented in December.

  引起暴发的病原体属于冠状病毒大家族,其中包括引起严重急性呼吸综合症(SARS)和中东呼吸综合症(MERS)以及普通感冒的病毒。最新病毒(当前称为2019-nCoV)与蝙蝠中传播的SARS和相关病毒关系最密切。但是这些病毒也可以感染其他动物,其他动物进而传播给人类。许多科学家怀疑,在武汉一家兼营生猛海鲜和野生动物的市场中交易了一种携带2019-nCoV的未知动物,这种动物随之将此冠状病毒传播给人类,因为12月记录的第一例人类病例来自这家市场。

  “The intermediate host is the missing piece of the puzzle:how have all these people got infected?”says Robertson.
纽约时报中英文网 www.qqenglish.com


  罗伯森说:“中间宿主是这个难题的缺失部分:所有这些人通过哪种途径被感染?”

  Hedgehogs,chickens and bats

  刺猬、鸡和蝙蝠


  A team led by Wei Ji,a microbiologist at Peking University Health Science Center School of Basic Medical Sciences in Beijing,looked for a sign that 2019-nCoV had adapted to any specific animal host.

  北京大学基础医学院健康科学中心的微生物学家Wei Ji领导的一个研究小组正在寻找证据,表明2019-nCoV已适应任何特定的动物宿主。

  Most amino acids are encoded by multiple codons—sequences of three DNA or RNA nucleotide triplets that encode amino acids.One way that viruses adapt is by encoding proteins using the same choice of codons as their host.Wei's team compared the codons favoured by 2019-nCoV with those preferred by potential hosts including hedgehogs,pangolins,bats,chickens,humans and snakes.

  大多数氨基酸由多个密码子编码——密码子是指编码氨基酸的三个DNA或RNA核苷酸三联体的序列。病毒适应宿主的一种方式是选用与宿主相同的密码子编码蛋白质。Wei的小组将2019-nCoV病毒偏爱的密码子与刺猬、穿山甲、蝙蝠、鸡、人和蛇等潜在宿主偏爱的密码子进行了比较。

  The team reported that 2019-nCoV's choice of codons was most similar to those used by two snakes:Bungarus multicinctus(the many-banded krait)and Naja atra(the Chinese cobra).Snakes were sold at the Wuhan seafood and animal market,the researchers note.“Taken together,snakes could be the most likely wildlife animal reservoir for the 2019-nCoV,”they write in a paper published on 22 January in the Journal of Medical Virology1.

  据研究小组报告,2019-nCoV病毒偏爱的密码子与两种蛇类使用的密码子最相似:银环蛇(Bungarus multicinctus)和中国眼镜蛇(Naja atra)。研究人员指出,武汉这家海鲜和动物市场确有出售这些蛇类。“总之,蛇是2019-nCoV病毒嫌疑最大的野生动物宿主,”在《病毒学医学杂志》1月22日发表的一篇文章中,他们如是总结1。<-->纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com<-->

  Robertson says it's unlikely that 2019-nCoV has infected any secondary animal host for long enough to alter its genome significantly.“It takes a long time for such a process to play out,”he says.

  罗伯森表示,2019-nCoV感染任何动物中间宿主的时间不长,不太可能足以显著改变其基因组。他说:“基因组改变需要很长时间。”

  Evidence gap

  证据缺失


  “They have no evidence snakes can be infected by this new coronavirus and serve as a host for it,”says Paulo Eduardo Brandão,a virologist at the University of São Paulo who is investigating whether coronaviruses can infect snakes at all.“There's no consistent evidence of coronaviruses in hosts other than mammals and Aves(birds).”

  圣保罗大学的病毒学家Paulo EduardoBrandão正在研究冠状病毒是否可以感染蛇,他说:“他们缺乏证据表明蛇可以被这种新型冠状病毒感染并作为宿主。”“除了哺乳动物和鸟类宿主以外,其他物种尚无一致的证据证明存在冠状病毒。”

  Wei's team has not yet responded to e-mails from Nature's news team seeking comment on the paper and the criticism it has received.

  《自然》新闻组向Wei的小组发送电子邮件,要求其对论文以及收到的批评进行解释,但尚未收到回复。

  Many researchers are sceptical that the animal host or hosts of 2019-nCoV can be identified without further field and laboratory work.Many hope that genetic tests of animals or environmental sources,such as cages and containers,from the Wuhan market will turn up clues.

  2019-nCoV病毒的一种或多种动物宿主的鉴定需要进一步的实地和实验室工作,因此许多研究人员对wei的结论持有怀疑态度。许多人希望对武汉市场上的动物或环境资源(例如网箱和容器)进行基因检测,以找出线索。

  A mammal is the most likely candidate,says Cui Jie,a virologist at the Pasteur Institute of Shanghai who was part of a team that identified SARS-related viruses in bats from a cave in Yunnan province in southwestern China in 20172.SARS and 2019-nCoV are part of a virus subgroup known as betacoronaviruses.Fieldwork in the wake of the 2002–03 SARS outbreak has found such viruses only in mammals,Cui says.“Clearly this 2019-nCoV is a mammalian virus.”

  上海巴斯德研究所的病毒学家Cui Jie(曾参与2017年从中国云南省西南部的洞穴2蝙蝠中鉴定SARS相关病毒工作)说,哺乳动物是最有可能的宿主。SARS和2019-nCoV属于β冠状病毒的病毒亚群。Cui说,在2002-03年SARS爆发后,实地调查发现仅在哺乳动物中存在这种病毒。“显然,这种2019-nCoV是哺乳动物病毒。”
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