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Review
, 299, 1-31

What Is a Quasispecies?

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Review

What Is a Quasispecies?

C K Biebricher et al. Curr Top Microbiol Immunol.

Abstract

The concept of the quasispecies as a society formed from a clone of an asexually reproducing organism is reviewed. A broad spectrum of mutants is generated that compete one with another. Eventually a steady state is formed where each mutant type is represented according to its fitness and its formation by mutation. This quasispecies has a defined wild type sequence, which is the weighted average of all genotypes present. The quasispecies concept has been shown to affect the pathway of evolution and has been studied on RNA viruses which have a particularly high mutation rate. They (and possibly the majority of other species) operate close to the error threshold that allows maximum exploration of sequence space while conserving the information content of the genotype. The consequences of the quasispecies concept for the new 'evolutionary technology' are discussed.

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