Evolutionary Comparison of Models for Viral Infection: The "Wrong" Talk.

CEES Extra seminar by Juan Antonio Bonachela Fajardo from Princeton University. Note the day.


Viruses are the most numerous organisms on Earth. They represent an important source of mortality at roughly every trophic level in any ecosystem. Although a collection of standard models for virus-host interactions has been used for decades, the evolutionary consequences of the ecological assumptions these models make remain still unclear. This issue can handicap their ability to make long-term predictions about host-virus interactions affecting, e.g. the marine trophic network. A more faithful representation of the ecology and evolution of viruses can, for instance, help design more efficient medical treatments fighting (or using) viruses; or improve the reliability of the predictions made with biogeochemical models (which basically ignore this important source of mortality) about any future climate-change scenario. In this talk I will illustrate the problem using bacterial viruses. I will show why the paradigmatic virus-bacteria model, broadly used due to its simplicity, cannot provide satisfactory long-term predictions, and which ecological and evolutionary mechanisms need to be included in order to solve this issue. This research provides insight on the evolution of viral infection strategies and trade-offs, as well as the importance of eco-evolutionary interactions.

Juan Antonio Bonachela Fajardo
Levin Lab, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and
Princeton Environmental Institute
Princeton University
M31 Guyot Hall, 08544 Princeton, NJ (U.S.A.)

Published Oct. 2, 2013 11:26 AM - Last modified Nov. 5, 2013 10:02 AM