Weitz Group @ Georgia Tech Theoretical Ecology and Quantitative Biology

Heterogeneous viral strategies promote coexistence in virus-microbe systems

TitleHeterogeneous viral strategies promote coexistence in virus-microbe systems
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsGulbudak H, Weitz JS
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Pagination65 - 84

Viral infections of microbial cells often culminate in lysis and the release of new virus particles. However, viruses of microbes can also initiate chronic infections, in which new viruses particles are released via budding and without cell lysis. In chronic infections, viral genomes may also be passed on from mother to daughter cells during division. The consequences of chronic infections for the population dynamics of viruses and microbes remains under-explored. In this paper we present a model of chronic infections as well as a model of interactions between lytic and chronic viruses competing for the same microbial population. In the chronic only model, we identify conditions underlying complex bifurcations such as saddle-node, backward and Hopfbifurcations, leading to parameter regions with multiple attractors and/or oscillatory behavior. We then utilize invasion analysis to examine the coupled nonlinear system of microbes, lytic viruses, and chronic viruses. In so doing we find unexpected results, including a regime in which the chronic virus requires the lytic virus for survival, invasion, and persistence. In this regime, lytic viruses decrease total cell densities, so that a subpopulation of chronically infected cells experience decreased niche competition. As such, even when chronically infected cells have a growth disadvantage, lytic viruses can, paradoxically, enable the proliferation of both chronically infected cells and chronic viruses. We discuss the implications of our results for understanding the ecology and long-term evolution of heterogeneous viral strategies.