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Trends Microbiol. 2017 May;25(5):402-412. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2017.02.003. Epub 2017 Mar 3.

Collective Infectious Units in Viruses.

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Institute for Integrative Systems Biology (I2SysBio), Universitat de València and Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas València, Spain; Departament de Genètica, Universitat de València, València, Spain. Electronic address:


Increasing evidence indicates that viruses do not simply propagate as independent virions among cells, organs, and hosts. Instead, viral spread is often mediated by structures that simultaneously transport groups of viral genomes, such as polyploid virions, aggregates of virions, virion-containing proteinaceous structures, secreted lipid vesicles, and virus-induced cell-cell contacts. These structures increase the multiplicity of infection, independently of viral population density and transmission bottlenecks. Collective infectious units may contribute to the maintenance of viral genetic diversity, and could have implications for the evolution of social-like virus-virus interactions. These may include various forms of cooperation such as immunity evasion, genetic complementation, division of labor, and relaxation of fitness trade-offs, but also noncooperative interactions such as negative dominance and interference, potentially leading to conflict.


Baculoviruses; Genetic diversity; Microvesicles; Multiplicity of infection; Polyploid virion; Social evolution

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