What Is a Quasispecies? Historical Origins and Current Scope

  • Esteban DomingoEmail author
  • Peter SchusterEmail author
Part of the Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology book series (CT MICROBIOLOGY, volume 392)


The quasispecies concept is introduced by means of a simple theoretical model that uses as little chemical kinetics and mathematics as possible but fully in the spirit of Albert Einstein who said: “Things should be made as simple as possible but not simpler.” More elaborate treatments follow in the forthcoming chapters. It is shown that the most important results of the theory, in particular the existence of error thresholds, are not dependent on simplifying assumptions concerning the distribution of fitness values. Error thresholds are regularly found on landscapes with large and irregular scatter of fitness. After the introduction to theory, it will be shown how experimental data on the evolution of molecules or viruses may be fit to the theoretical model.


Mutation Rate Center Manifold Viral Population Mutant Spectrum Error Threshold 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Peter Schuster wishes to acknowledge support by the University of Vienna, Wien, Austria and the Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe, USA. Esteban Domingo acknowledges the support of grants BFU 2011-23604 and SAF2014-52400-R from Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, grant S2013/ABI-2906 (PLATESA) from Comunidad Autónoma de Madrid, CIBERehd (Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Enfermedades Hepáticas y Digestivas) which is funded by Instituto de Salud Carlos III, and Fundación Ramón Areces.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro de Biología Molecular “Severo Ochoa” (CSIC-UAM)Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)MadridSpain
  2. 2.Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Enfermedades Hepáticas y Digestivas (CIBERehd)BarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Institut für Theoretische Chemie der Universität WienViennaAustria
  4. 4.The Santa Fe InstituteSanta FeUSA

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