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  1. Pascual, Mercedes (Ed.)
    To study viral evolutionary processes within patients, mathematical models have been instrumental. Yet, the need for stochastic simulations of minority mutant dynamics can pose computational challenges, especially in heterogeneous systems where very large and very small sub-populations coexist. Here, we describe a hybrid stochastic-deterministic algorithm to simulate mutant evolution in large viral populations, such as acute HIV-1 infection, and further include the multiple infection of cells. We demonstrate that the hybrid method can approximate the fully stochastic dynamics with sufficient accuracy at a fraction of the computational time, and quantify evolutionary end points that cannot be expressed by deterministic models, such as the mutant distribution or the probability of mutant existence at a given infected cell population size. We apply this method to study the role of multiple infection and intracellular interactions among different virus strains (such as complementation and interference) for mutant evolution. Multiple infection is predicted to increase the number of mutants at a given infected cell population size, due to a larger number of infection events. We further find that viral complementation can significantly enhance the spread of disadvantageous mutants, but only in select circumstances: it requires the occurrence of direct cell-to-cell transmission through virological synapses, asmore »well as a substantial fitness disadvantage of the mutant, most likely corresponding to defective virus particles. This, however, likely has strong biological consequences because defective viruses can carry genetic diversity that can be incorporated into functional virus genomes via recombination. Through this mechanism, synaptic transmission in HIV might promote virus evolvability.« less
  2. Pascual, Mercedes (Ed.)
    When Darwin visited the Galapagos archipelago, he observed that, in spite of the islands’ physical similarity, members of species that had dispersed to them recently were beginning to diverge from each other. He postulated that these divergences must have resulted primarily from interactions with sets of other species that had also diverged across these otherwise similar islands. By extrapolation, if Darwin is correct, such complex interactions must be driving species divergences across all ecosystems. However, many current general ecological theories that predict observed distributions of species in ecosystems do not take the details of between-species interactions into account. Here we quantify, in sixteen forest diversity plots (FDPs) worldwide, highly significant negative density-dependent (NDD) components of both conspecific and heterospecific between-tree interactions that affect the trees’ distributions, growth, recruitment, and mortality. These interactions decline smoothly in significance with increasing physical distance between trees. They also tend to decline in significance with increasing phylogenetic distance between the trees, but each FDP exhibits its own unique pattern of exceptions to this overall decline. Unique patterns of between-species interactions in ecosystems, of the general type that Darwin postulated, are likely to have contributed to the exceptions. We test the power of our null-model methodmore »by using a deliberately modified data set, and show that the method easily identifies the modifications. We examine how some of the exceptions, at the Wind River (USA) FDP, reveal new details of a known allelopathic effect of one of the Wind River gymnosperm species. Finally, we explore how similar analyses can be used to investigate details of many types of interactions in these complex ecosystems, and can provide clues to the evolution of these interactions.« less