Slow coevolution of a viral pathogen and its diploid host

  • Andreasen V
  • Christiansen F
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We study a population exposed to a lethal infectious disease. Host response is carried at one locus with two alleles while the pathogen occurs in two variants. Based on an SI-type epidemic model we derive explicit equations for the dynamics of each genotype. By assuming small variations in both host and disease, we obtain a separation in time scales between epidemic and evolutionary processes. This allows us to describe explicitly the changes in host and disease gene frequencies. The resulting model has a rich behaviour including multiple stable states and oscillations. However, in the oscillatory situation the model is degenerate excluding the possibility of limit cycles. We show that the degeneracy can only be removed by frequency dependent selection in the pathogen, for example by including direct interaction of virus in a free-living stage. The qualitative conclusions extend to an SIR-type epidemic model, where recovery with immunity from the disease is possible.

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  • V. Andreasen

  • F. B. Christiansen

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