Next Article in Journal
Evaluation of Diagnostic Performance of Three Indirect Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assays for the Detection of IgG Antibodies to Ebola Virus in Human Sera
Previous Article in Journal
Special Issue “Plant Virus Ecology and Biodiversity”
Open AccessArticle

Viral Long-Term Evolutionary Strategies Favor Stability over Proliferation

Department of Biology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5, Canada
Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Current address: Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, the University Health Network, Toronto, ON M5G 2M9, Canada.
Viruses 2019, 11(8), 677;
Received: 30 May 2019 / Revised: 12 July 2019 / Accepted: 20 July 2019 / Published: 24 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Viruses)
PDF [7876 KB, uploaded 24 July 2019]


Viruses are known to have some of the highest and most diverse mutation rates found in any biological replicator, with single-stranded (ss) RNA viruses evolving the fastest, and double-stranded (ds) DNA viruses having rates approaching those of bacteria. As mutation rates are tightly and negatively correlated with genome size, selection is a clear driver of viral evolution. However, the role of intragenomic interactions as drivers of viral evolution is still unclear. To understand how these two processes affect the long-term evolution of viruses infecting humans, we comprehensively analyzed ssRNA, ssDNA, dsRNA, and dsDNA viruses, to find which virus types and which functions show evidence for episodic diversifying selection and correlated evolution. We show that selection mostly affects single stranded viruses, that correlated evolution is more prevalent in DNA viruses, and that both processes, taken independently, mostly affect viral replication. However, the genes that are jointly affected by both processes are involved in key aspects of their life cycle, favoring viral stability over proliferation. We further show that both evolutionary processes are intimately linked at the amino acid level, which suggests that it is the joint action of selection and correlated evolution, and not just selection, that shapes the evolutionary trajectories of viruses—and possibly of their epidemiological potential. View Full-Text
Keywords: correlated evolution; positive selection; evolutionary strategy; functional analysis correlated evolution; positive selection; evolutionary strategy; functional analysis

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Supplementary materials

  • Supplementary File 1:

    PDF-Document (PDF, 2673 KB)

  • Externally hosted supplementary file 1
    Doi: 10.1101/539239
    Description: Supplementary figures and tables

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Aris-Brosou, S.; Parent, L.; Ibeh, N. Viral Long-Term Evolutionary Strategies Favor Stability over Proliferation. Viruses 2019, 11, 677.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Viruses EISSN 1999-4915 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top