Struggle for space: viral extinction through competition for cells Articles uri icon

publication date

  • January 2011

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 4


  • 2 (028104)


  • 106

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0031-9007

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1079-7114


  • The design of protocols to suppress the propagation of viral infections is an enduring enterprise, especially hindered by limited knowledge of the mechanisms leading to viral extinction. Here we report on infection extinction due to intraspecific competition to infect susceptible hosts. Beneficial mutations increase the production of viral progeny, while the host cell may develop defenses against infection. For an unlimited number of host cells, a feedback runaway coevolution between host resistance and progeny production occurs. However, physical space limits the advantage that the virus obtains from increasing offspring numbers; thus, infection clearance may result from an increase in host defenses beyond a finite threshold. Our results might be relevant to devise improved control strategies in environments with mobility constraints or different geometrical properties.


  • Mathematics
  • Medicine


  • error catastrophe; virus populations; evolution; supperssion; percolation; infectivity; resistance; threshold; genetics