Preprint Review Version 2 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Cheating in the Viral World

Version 1 : Received: 11 June 2019 / Approved: 12 June 2019 / Online: 12 June 2019 (15:29:49 CEST)
Version 2 : Received: 21 April 2020 / Approved: 22 April 2020 / Online: 22 April 2020 (06:02:05 CEST)

How to cite: Leeks, A.; West, S.A.; Ghoul, M. Cheating in the Viral World. Preprints 2019, 2019060106. Leeks, A.; West, S.A.; Ghoul, M. Cheating in the Viral World. Preprints 2019, 2019060106.


The success of many viruses depends upon cooperative interactions between viral genomes. For example, viruses that coinfect the same cell can share essential gene products, such as replicase, the enzyme that replicates the viral genome. However, when cooperation occurs, there is the potential for ‘cheats’ to exploit that cooperation. We suggest that: (1) the biology of viruses makes viral cooperation particularly susceptible to cheating; (2) cheats are common across a wide range of viruses, including viral entities that are already well studied, such as defective interfering genomes, and satellite viruses. Consequently, evolutionary theory developed to explain cheating offers a conceptual framework for understanding and manipulating viral dynamics. At the same time, viruses offer unique opportunities to study how cheats evolve, because cheating is relatively common in viruses, compared with taxa where cooperation is more usually studied, such as animals.


virus evolution; cheat; cooperation; social evolution; defective interfering genome; satellite virus


Biology and Life Sciences, Virology

Comments (1)

Comment 1
Received: 22 April 2020
Commenter: Asher Leeks
Commenter's Conflict of Interests: Author
Comment: Manuscript is on the same topic with the same central message, but the text has been restructured, sections have been rewritten, and there are new figures.
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