Open questions in the social lives of viruses


Social interactions among viruses occur whenever multiple viral genomes infect the same cells, hosts, or populations of hosts. Viral social interactions range from cooperation to conflict, occur throughout the viral world, and affect every stage of the viral lifecycle. The ubiquity of these social interactions means that they can determine the population dynamics, evolutionary trajectory, and clinical progression of viral infections. At the same time, social interactions in viruses raise new questions for evolutionary theory, providing opportunities to test and extend existing frameworks within social evolution. Many opportunities exist at this interface: Insights into the evolution of viral social interactions have immediate implications for our understanding of the fundamental biology and clinical manifestation of viral diseases. However, these opportunities are currently limited because evolutionary biologists only rarely study social evolution in viruses. Here, we bridge this gap by (1) summarizing the ways in which viruses can interact socially, including consequences for social evolution and evolvability; (2) outlining some open questions raised by viruses that could challenge concepts within social evolution theory; and (3) providing some illustrative examples, data sources, and conceptual questions, for studying the natural history of social viruses.

© 2023 The Authors. Journal of Evolutionary Biology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of European Society for Evolutionary Biology. cc-by
cheating, conflict, cooperation, evolutionary theory, natural history, population genetics, social evolution, virology, virus evolution
Leeks, A., Bono, L.M., Ampolini, E.A., Souza, L.S., Hofler, T., Mattson, C.L., Dye, A.E., & Diaz-Munoz, S.L.. 2023. Open questions in the social lives of viruses. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 36(11).