Field theory for a reaction-diffusion model of quasispecies dynamics
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RNA viruses are known to replicate with extremely high mutation rates. These rates are actually close to the so-called error threshold. This threshold is in fact a critical point beyond which genetic information is lost through a second-order phase transition, which has been dubbed as the “error catastrophe.” Here we explore this phenomenon using a field theory approximation to the spatially extended Swetina-Schuster quasispecies model [J. Swetina and P. Schuster, Biophys. Chem. 16, 329 (1982)], a single-sharp-peak landscape. In analogy with standard absorbing-state phase transitions, we develop a reaction-diffusion model whose discrete rules mimic the Swetina-Schuster model. The field theory representation of the reaction-diffusion system is constructed. The proposed field theory belongs to the same universality class as a conserved reaction-diffusion model previously proposed [F. van Wijland et al., Physica A 251, 179 (1998)]. From the field theory, we obtain the full set of exponents that characterize the critical behavior at the error threshold. Our results present the error catastrophe from a different point of view and suggest that spatial degrees of freedom can modify several mean-field predictions previously considered, leading to the definition of characteristic exponents that could be experimentally measurable.
CitationPastor-Satorras, R., Solé, R. V. Field theory for a reaction-diffusion model of quasispecies dynamics. "Physical review E: statistical, nonlinear, and soft matter physics", 24 Octubre 2001, vol. 64, núm. 5, p. 1-7.