Advantage of Being Multicomponent and Spatial: Multipartite Viruses Colonize Structured Populations with Lower Thresholds


Multipartite viruses have a genome divided into different disconnected viral particles. A majority of multipartite viruses infect plants; very few target animals. To understand why, we use a simple, network-based susceptible-latent-infectious-recovered model. We show both analytically and numerically that, provided that the average degree of the contact network exceeds a critical value, even in the absence of an explicit microscopic advantage, multipartite viruses have a lower threshold to colonizing network-structured populations compared to a well-mixed population. We further corroborate this finding on two-dimensional lattice networks, which better represent the typical contact structures of plants.

Phys. Rev. Lett.