selects for the acquisition of polybasic cleavage sites


I understand "selects for" as "picks for the purpose of." Am I on the right track?

That is, the rapid replication and transmission has a purpose in the process of evolution, this purpose is to acquire polybasic cleavage sites.

In avian influenza viruses, rapid replication and transmission in highly dense chicken populations selects for the acquisition of polybasic cleavage sites in the hemagglutinin (HA) protein16, which serves a function similar to that of the coronavirus spike protein. Acquisition of polybasic cleavage sites in HA, by insertion or recombination, converts low-pathogenicity avian influenza viruses into highly pathogenic forms16. The acquisition of polybasic cleavage sites by HA has also been observed after repeated passage in cell culture or through animals17.

Source: Nature Published: 17 March 2020
The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2
  • MrMuselk

    Senior Member
    English - South East England
    It can also mean that it nominates for, or puts forward, though in this case, it feels like it means that the replication makes for, or causes the acquisition of the poly basic sites.


    Senior Member
    British English
    It's the usual use of "select" when discussing evolution. Rapid replication and transmission of influenza viruses is associated with frequent mutation, and the process leads to the survival of those mutations which are best suited to the environment - in this case, the mutations which have polybasic cleavage sites in HA. So the process selects for that outcome.
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