One of the things that the pandemic has done to our world is that the scientific community has turned many of their efforts to understand and try to control it from several disciplines. This extraordinary worldwide collaboration, together with the modern information and communication technologies, efforts to share the data and modern machine learning and bioinformatics techniques have given us the ability to observe the evolution of the different strains of the virus in almost real time. Here we use genetic data on SARS-COV2 isolates to test results of evolutionary theories in real time. In particular we show the approximate adherence to Yule’s model of the evolution of the different strains and also show that the architecture of the phylogenetic trees representing the families of strains is neither completely balanced, nor completely imbalanced, as seen in earlier studies. We also find that the variants of concern have shown a higher diversification in the RBD domain, which is responsible for binding with human cells, and thus a determinant for the infectiousness of the strain.

Rapid evolution of SARS-CoV-2 challenges human defenses

CM Duarte, DI Ketcheson, VM Eguíluz, S Agustí, J Fernández-Gracia, ...

Scientific reports 12 (1), 1-8

There are many ecosystems in which mutualistic relations, the ones that are beneficial for both species in interaction, are crucial for their survival. Piotr Kropotkin noticed very early that mutual aid had to be an important factor in evolution. Examples of this kind of ecosystem are the ones in which we have insects pollinating plants. The structure of these ecosystems is captured by bipartite networks and research has already shown that there are several structural characteristics that seem to pervade in them and are crucial for their stability and robustness. Here we use data on interactions between plants and pollinators in Mallorca and show how the progressive extinction of different species under different assumptions changes the characteristics of the network.

Robustness to extinction and plasticity derived from mutualistic bipartite ecological networks

S Sheykhali, J Fernández-Gracia, A Traveset, M Ziegler, CR Voolstra, ...

Scientific reports 10 (1), 1-12