Killing them softly: managing pathogen polymorphism and virulence in spatially variable environments

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Understanding why pathogen populations are genetically variable is vital because genetic variation fuels evolution, which often hampers disease control efforts. Here I argue that classical models of evolution in spatially variable environments - specifically, models of hard and soft selection - provide a useful framework to understand the maintenance of pathogen polymorphism and the evolution of virulence. First, the similarities between models of hard and soft selection and pathogen life cycles are described, highlighting how the type and timing of pathogen control measures impose density regulation that may affect both the level of pathogen polymorphism and virulence. The article concludes with an outline of potential lines of future theoretical and experimental work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417–422
Number of pages6
JournalTrends in Parasitology
Volume29
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013

Keywords

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Environment
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Parasites
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Virulence

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