Second order catalytic quasispecies yields discontinuous mean fitness at error threshold

Nathaniel Wagner, Emmanuel Tannenbaum, Gonen Ashkenasy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The quasispecies model describes processes related to the origin of life and viral evolutionary dynamics. We discuss how the error catastrophe that reflects the transition from localized to delocalized quasispecies population is affected by catalytic replication of different reaction orders. Specifically, we find that second order mechanisms lead to a discontinuity in the mean fitness of the population at the error threshold. This is in contrast to the behavior of the first order, autocatalytic replication mechanism considered in the standard quasispecies model. This suggests that quasispecies models with higher order replication mechanisms produce discontinuities in the mean fitness, and hence the viable population fraction as well, at the error threshold, while lower order replication mechanisms yield a continuous mean fitness function. We discuss potential implications for understanding replication in the RNA world and in virology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number188101
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number18
StatePublished - 6 May 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (all)


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