Symbiosis versus competition in plant virus evolution

Marilyn J. Roossinck

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection has been supported by molecular evidence and by experimental evolution of viruses. However, it might not account for the evolution of all life, and an alternative model of evolution through symbiotic relationships also has gained support. In this review, the evolution of plant viruses has been reinterpreted in light of these two seemingly opposing theories by using evidence from the earliest days of plant virology to the present. Both models of evolution probably apply in different circumstances, but evolution by symbiotic association (symbiogenesis) is the most likely model for many evolutionary events that have resulted in rapid changes or the formation of new species. In viruses, symbiogenesis results in genomic reassortment or recombination events among disparate species. These are most noticeable by phylogenetic comparisons of extant viruses from different taxonomic groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)917-924
Number of pages8
JournalNature Reviews Microbiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases


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