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Viruses 2009, 1(2), 241-254; doi:10.3390/v1020241

Evolutionary Constraints to Viroid Evolution

1,2,* , 1
1 Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular de Plantas (CSIC-UPV), Campus UPV CPI access G, Ingeniero Fausto Elio s/n, 46022 Valencia, Spain 2 The Santa Fe Institute, 1399 Hyde Park Road, Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 10 July 2009 / Revised: 27 August 2009 / Accepted: 27 August 2009 / Published: 2 September 2009
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Subviral RNAs)
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We suggest that viroids are trapped into adaptive peaks as the result of adaptive constraints. The first one is imposed by the necessity to fold into packed structures to escape from RNA silencing. This creates antagonistic epistases, which make future adaptive trajectories contingent upon the first mutation and slow down the rate of adaptation. This second constraint can only be surpassed by increasing genetic redundancy or by recombination. Eigen’s paradox imposes a limit to the increase in genome complexity in the absence of mechanisms reducing mutation rate. Therefore, recombination appears as the only possible route to evolutionary innovation in viroids.
Keywords: epistasis; evolutionary constraints; genome complexity; mutation rate; RNA folding; viroid evolution epistasis; evolutionary constraints; genome complexity; mutation rate; RNA folding; viroid evolution
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Elena, S.F.; Gómez, G.; Daròs, J.-A. Evolutionary Constraints to Viroid Evolution. Viruses 2009, 1, 241-254.

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