Intra-population Interactions and the Evolution of RNA Phages
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As in other RNA viruses, replication of RNA phages takes place with high error rate, which leads to the coexistence within their populations of a wide diversity of interacting mutants. When interactions are mainly cooperative, the replication of the ensemble is favored. Conversely, when interference or competitive interactions are the dominant ones, the viability of the whole population can be compromised. Finally, the fact that high error rates are associated to small and highly compacted genomes also causes that the effect of mutations is not independent. The result is that the evolutionary behavior of RNA phages is modulated by a wide variety of interactions that connect mutants within populations and that add an extra dimension to the process, giving rise to outcomes that differ from what would be expected from the properties of the individual mutants.
The author is grateful to Susanna Manrubia for the critical reading of the manuscript. Work was funded by the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades, grant numbers FIS2017-89773-P and MDM-2017-0737 Unidad de Excelencia “María de Maeztu” Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC-INTA).
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