Ecological Fever: The Evolutionary History of Coronavirus in Human-Wildlife Relationships

Felipe S. Campos, Ricardo Lourenço-de-Moraes

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The rapid dissemination of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV−2) has opened up an environmental dilemma—investigating the relationship between the evolutionary history of coronaviruses (CoVs) and the zoonotic spillover in humans to avoid new rapidly evolving pathogens. To guide politicians in health policy decision-making, scientists have an urgent need to explore how cross-species virus transmission can help prevent pandemics (Zhou et al., 2020). The emergence of new epidemic diseases varies among different taxonomic groups, and the human-made change in natural environments causes eco-evolutionary consequences. Therefore, the alteration of this natural role caused by human pressures on wild species, we label as “ecological fever” —a new One Health perspective from ecology to society. Following the new phylogenies of coronavirus proposed by Gorbalenya et al. (2020) and Zhang et al. (2020), we explore the adaptive evolution of coronaviruses across mammal species and its importance for wildlife conservation. Here, we show reconstructed ancestral states of coronaviruses under maximum-likelihood estimations across an entire class of host organisms (i.e., Mammalia). In this opinion paper, we explore the evolution and cross-species transmission of coronaviruses and highlight the need to preserve natural habitats of wildlife in order to prevent future pandemics.
Original languageEnglish
Article number575286
Pages (from-to)1-4
Number of pages4
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2020


  • biodiversity conservation
  • coevolution
  • mammal hosts
  • one health
  • outbreak
  • pandemics


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