Inferring transmission bottleneck size from viral sequence data using a novel haplotype reconstruction method [article]

Mahan Ghafari, Casper K Lumby, Daniel Weissman, Christopher John Reeday Illingworth
2020 biorxiv/medrxiv   pre-print
The transmission bottleneck is defined as the number of viral particles transmitted from one host to another. Genome sequence data has been used to evaluate the size of the transmission bottleneck between humans infected with the influenza virus, however, the methods used to make these estimates have some limitations. Specifically, approaches using viral allele frequency data may not fully capture a process which involves the transmission of entire viral genomes. Here we set out a novel
more » ... out a novel approach for inferring viral transmission bottlenecks; our method combines haplotype reconstruction, a method for inferring the composition of genomes in a viral population, with two maximum likelihood methods for bottleneck inference, tailored for small and large bottleneck sizes respectively. Our method allows for rapid calculation, and performs well when applied to data from simulated transmission events, being robust to errors in the haplotype reconstruction process. Applied to data from a previous household transmission study of influenza A infection we confirm the result that the majority of transmission events involve a small number of viruses, albeit with slightly looser bottlenecks being inferred, with between 1 and 13 particles transmitted in the majority of cases. While influenza A transmission involves a tight population bottleneck, the bottleneck is not so tight as to universally prevent the transmission of within-host viral diversity.
doi:10.1101/2020.01.03.891242 fatcat:pvpllqprjnf7hliele47fm3ql4