A life history view of mutualistic viral symbioses: Quantity or quality for cooperation?

Xiaodong Bao, Marilyn J. Roossinck

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Mutualistic symbioses between viruses and their hosts do not employ a straightforward rule by viral genome characteristics, transmission mechanisms or host genotypes. In this review we propose that reproduction rates and environmental carrying capacity of hosts may play a major role in maintaining the mutualism. Depending on how host life history shifts following establishment of the symbiosis, a symbiosis can be classified as quality-selected mutualism or quantity-selected mutualism. Quality-selected mutualism is described with modified Lotka-Volterra models. Both our models and previous empirical examples support the hypothesis that quality-selected mutualism can reach stable equilibrium under certain conditions. Quantity-selected mutualism is rare and is not supported by our model. With increasing attention to mutualistic viral ecology, we will have a better understanding of how viruses drive evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)514-518
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Opinion in Microbiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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