The Evolution & Medicine Review

Leeks, A., West, S. A., & Ghoul, M. (2021). The evolution of cheating in viruses. Nature Communications, 12(1), 6928. (open access).


Abstract: The success of many viruses depends upon cooperative interactions between viral genomes. However, whenever cooperation occurs, there is the potential for ‘cheats’ to exploit that cooperation. We suggest that: (1) the biology of viruses makes viral cooperation particularly susceptible to cheating; (2) cheats are common across a wide range of viruses, including viral entities that are already well studied, such as defective interfering genomes, and satellite viruses. Consequently, the evolutionary theory of cheating could help us understand and manipulate viral dynamics, while viruses also offer new opportunities to study the evolution of cheating.