RNA virus populations are not clonal; rather, they comprise a mutant swarm in which sequences are slightly different from the master sequence. Genetic diversity within a population (intrapopulation genetic diversity) is critical for RNA viruses to survive under environmental stresses. Disinfection has become an important practice in the control of pathogenic viruses; however, the impact of intrapopulation genetic diversity on the sensitivity of disinfection, defined as –log10 (postdisinfected infectious titer/predisinfected titer), has not been elucidated. In this study, we serially passaged populations of rhesus rotavirus. We demonstrated that populations with reduced chlorine sensitivity emerged at random and independently of chlorine exposure. Sequencing analysis revealed that compared with sensitive populations, less-sensitive ones had higher non-synonymous genetic diversity of the outer capsid protein gene, suggesting that changes in the amino acid sequences of the outer capsid protein were the main factors influencing chlorine sensitivity. No common mutations were found among less-sensitive populations, indicating that rather than specific mutations, the diversity of the outer capsid protein itself was associated with the disinfection sensitivity and that the disinfection sensitivity changed stochastically. Simulation results suggest that the disinfection sensitivity of a genetically diverse population is destabilized if cooperative viral clusters including multiple sequences are formed. These results advocate that any prevention measures leading to low intrapopulation genetic diversity are important to prevent the spread and evolution of pathogenic RNA viruses in society.
ASJC Scopus subject areas