Infect While the Iron is Scarce: Nutrient Explicit Phage-Bacteria Games

Publication Type Journal Article
Year of Publication 2019
Authors Muratore D, Weitz JS
Journal BioRxiv

Marine microbial primary production is influenced by the availability and uptake of essential nutrients, including iron. Although marine microbes have evolved mechanisms to scavenge sub-nanomolar concentrations of iron, recent observations suggest that viruses may co-opt these very same mechanisms to facilitate infection. The "Ferrojan Horse Hypothesis" proposes that viruses incorporate iron atoms into their tail fiber proteins to adsorb to target host receptors. Here, we propose an evolutionary game theoretic approach to consider the joint strategies of hosts and viruses in environments with limited nutrients (like iron). We analyze the bimatrix game and find that evolutionarily stable strategies depend on the stability and quality of nutrient conditions. For example, in highly stable iron conditions, virus pressure does not change host uptake strategies. However, when iron levels are dynamic, virus pressure can lead to fluctuations in the extent to which hosts invest in metabolic machinery that increases both iron uptake and susceptibility to viral infection. Altogether, this evolutionary game model provides further evidence that viral infection and nutrient dynamics jointly shape the fate of microbial populations.

URL https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/674382v2.abstract
DOI 10.1101/674382