Viral Evolution: It is All About Mutations

Adi Stern*, Raul Andino

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Viral infection is a highly dynamic process, which lead to constant evolutionary changes on both sides of the viral-host interface. The high mutation rates of viruses, coupled with short generation times and large population sizes, allow viruses to rapidly adapt to the host environment. However, this high mutation rate also comes at a cost to the viral population, as deleterious mutations are constantly created, leading to a plethora of defective genomes. Here, we will discuss the basic tenets that govern the evolution of viruses: mutation rates, population size, selection, the multiplicity of infection, and how these factors modulate infection as viruses evolve within a host, during transmission to novel susceptible hosts, and as viruses establish infections in new host species.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationViral Pathogenesis
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Basics to Systems Biology: Third Edition
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9780128009642
StatePublished - 2016


  • Co-infection
  • Mutation
  • Selection
  • Virus dynamics and evolution


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