Evolutionary comparison between viral lysis rate and latent period

Juan A. Bonachela, Simon Asher Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Marine viruses shape the structure of the microbial community. They are, thus, a key determinant of the most important biogeochemical cycles in the planet. Therefore, a correct description of the ecological and evolutionary behavior of these viruses is essential to make reliable predictions about their role in marine ecosystems. The infection cycle, for example, is indistinctly modeled in two very different ways. In one representation, the process is described including explicitly a fixed delay between infection and offspring release. In the other, the offspring are released at exponentially distributed times according to a fixed release rate. By considering obvious quantitative differences pointed out in the past, the latter description is widely used as a simplification of the former. However, it is still unclear how the dichotomy "delay versus rate description" affects long-term predictions of host-virus interaction models. Here, we study the ecological and evolutionary implications of using one or the other approaches, applied to marine microbes. To this end, we use mathematical and eco-evolutionary computational analysis. We show that the rate model exhibits improved competitive abilities from both ecological and evolutionary perspectives in steady environments. However, rate-based descriptions can fail to describe properly long-term microbe-virus interactions. Moreover, additional information about trade-offs between life-history traits is needed in order to choose the most reliable representation for oceanic bacteriophage dynamics. This result affects deeply most of the marine ecosystem models that include viruses, especially when used to answer evolutionary questions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-42
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
StatePublished - Mar 21 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Applied Mathematics
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation


  • Bacteriophage
  • Burst size
  • Eco-evolutionary dynamics
  • Evolutionarily stable strategy
  • Phytoplankton


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