Virus Co-infection and its Evolutionary Consequences

Our work concerns the evolutionary consequences of virus co-infection, especially disentangling the fitness advantages and disadvantages to virus genotypes when replicating within the same host cell. These projects are sometimes highly interdisciplinary, harnessing mathematical game theory and experimental evolution studies of viruses in the laboratory, as well as subjecting natural samples of viruses to phylogenetic and genomic analyses to infer effects of co-infection on virus population structure in the wild. Our ongoing studies examine both positive effects of co-infection such as the role of genetic exchange (recombination, reassortment) in generating variation that fuels natural selection, as well as negative effects of co-infection such as virus-virus competition within host cells and the evolution of viruses that ‘cheat’ during intracellular replication.


• Williams, E.S.C.P., N. Morales, B.R. Wasik, V. Brusic, S. Whelan, and P.E. Turner. 2016. Repeatable population dynamics among vesicular stomatitis virus lineages evolved under high co-infection. Frontiers in Microbiology 7:370. DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.00370. PMID: 27065953. PMCID: PMC4815288.

• McDonald, S.M., M.I. Nelson, P.E. Turner, and J.T. Patton. 2016. Reassortment in segmented RNA viruses: mechanisms and outcomes. Nature Reviews Microbiology 14:448-460. PMCID: PMC5119462. 

• Díaz-Muñoz, S.L., O. Tenaillon, D. Goldhill, K. Brao, P.E. Turner and L. Chao. 2013. Electrophoretic mobility confirms reassortment bias among geographic isolates of segmented RNA phages. BMC Evolutionary Biology 13:206. DOI: 1186/1471-2148-13-206. PMID: 24059872. PMCID: PMC3848951

• Dennehy, J.J., S. Duffy, K.J. O’Keefe, S.V. Edwards, and P.E. Turner. 2013. Frequent co-infection reduces RNA virus population genetic diversity. Journal of Heredity 104(5):704-712. PMID: 23828608

• O’Keefe, K., O.K. Silander, H. McCreery, D.M. Weinreich, K.M. Wright, L. Chao, S.V. Edwards, S.K. Remold and P.E. Turner. 2010. Geographic differences in sexual reassortment in RNA phage. Evolution 64(10):3010-3023

• Silander, O., D. Weinreich, K. Wright, K. O’Keefe, C. Rang, P.E. Turner, and L. Chao. 2005. Widespread genetic exchange among terrestrial bacteriophages. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 102:19009-19014. PMCID: PMC1323146.

• Froissart, R., C. Wilke, R. Montville, S.K. Remold, L. Chao, and P.E. Turner. 2004. Co-infection weakens selection against epistatic mutations in RNA viruses. Genetics 168:9-19. Corrigendum: Genetics (2006) 172:2705. PMCID: PMC144811

• Dennehy, J.J. and P.E. Turner. 2004. Reduced fecundity is the cost of cheating in RNA virus 6. Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences 271:2275-2282. PMCID: PMC1691856

• Turner, P.E., and L. Chao. 2003. Escape from prisoner’s dilemma in RNA phage 6. American Naturalist 161(3):497-505

• Turner, P.E., C. Burch, K. Hanley, and L. Chao. 1999. Hybrid frequencies confirm limit to coinfection in the RNA bacteriophage 6. Journal of Virology 73:2420-2424. PMCID: PMC104488

• Turner, P.E., C. Burch, K. Hanley, and L. Chao. 1999. Hybrid frequencies confirm limit to co-infection in the RNA bacteriophage phi-6. Journal of Virology 73:2420-2424. PMCID: PMC104488.

• Turner, P.E., and L. Chao. 1999. Prisoner’s dilemma in an RNA virus. Nature 398:441-443.