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Journal Article

Limited role of spatial self-structuring in emergent trade-offs during pathogen evolution

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Buendía, V., Muñoz, M., & Manrubia, S. (2018). Limited role of spatial self-structuring in emergent trade-offs during pathogen evolution. Scientific Reports, 8: 12476. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-30945-1.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000B-3E5C-A
Pathogen transmission and virulence are main evolutionary variables broadly assumed to be linked through trade-offs. In well-mixed populations, these trade-offs are often ascribed to physiological restrictions, while populations with spatial self-structuring might evolve emergent trade-offs. Here, we reexamine a spatially-explicit, SIR model of the latter kind proposed by Ballegooijen and Boerlijst with the aim of characterising the mechanisms causing the emergence of the trade-off and its structural robustness. Using invadability criteria, we establish the conditions under which an evolutionary feedback between transmission and virulence mediated by pattern formation can poise the system to a critical boundary separating a disordered state (without emergent trade-off) from a self-structured phase (where the trade-off emerges), and analytically calculate the functional shape of the boundary in a certain approximation. Beyond evolutionary parameters, the success of an invasion depends on the size and spatial structure of the invading and invaded populations. Spatial self-structuring is often destroyed when hosts are mobile, changing the evolutionary dynamics to those of a well-mixed population. In a metapopulation scenario, the systematic extinction of the pathogen in the disordered phase may counteract the disruptive effect of host mobility, favour pattern formation and therefore recover the emergent trade-off.