A UA evolutionary biologist's research resulted in finding out interesting details about the flu that challenge some of what other researchers thought about the virus.
Mike Worobey, evolutionary biologist with the UA's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology recently had his work published in the journals, Nature and Biology Letters.
Worobey developed a new methodology that helps infer the family tree of the variety of flu viruses.
"We use that to infer this evolutionary tree that tells us how the virus moves between hosts, and when those events took place," he explained. "That is key to understanding important pathogens, such as the 1918 Spanish flu virus."
Worobey was able to separate eight gene segments of the virus, and look at the family trees of each segment. He argued that, with past methods, trying to do such thing became very messy.
With his research, Worobey has been exploring the cause of the 1918 flu pandemic, which has been constantly debated. He argued that with his new method, the "confusion goes away."
In his findings, it looks like, "Most of the virus came from the Western Hemisphere...probably North American and from birds...just before 1918," he explained. "So, we don't have the full picture, yet, but have made a big jump (into knowing where it came from)."