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Growth rate, transmission mode and virulence in human pathogens

Leggett, Helen C; Cornwallis, Charlie K. LU ; Buckling, Angus and West, Stuart A. (2017) In Royal Society of London. Philosophical Transactions B. Biological Sciences 372(1719).
Abstract

The harm that pathogens cause to hosts during infection, termed virulence, varies across species from negligible to a high likelihood of rapid death. Classic theory for the evolution of virulence is based on a trade-off between pathogen growth, transmission and host survival, which predicts that higher within-host growth causes increased transmission and higher virulence. However, using data from 61 human pathogens, we found the opposite correlation to the expected positive correlation between pathogen growth rate and virulence. We found that (i) slower growing pathogens are significantly more virulent than faster growing pathogens, (ii) inhaled pathogens and pathogens that infect via skin wounds are significantly more virulent than... (More)

The harm that pathogens cause to hosts during infection, termed virulence, varies across species from negligible to a high likelihood of rapid death. Classic theory for the evolution of virulence is based on a trade-off between pathogen growth, transmission and host survival, which predicts that higher within-host growth causes increased transmission and higher virulence. However, using data from 61 human pathogens, we found the opposite correlation to the expected positive correlation between pathogen growth rate and virulence. We found that (i) slower growing pathogens are significantly more virulent than faster growing pathogens, (ii) inhaled pathogens and pathogens that infect via skin wounds are significantly more virulent than pathogens that are ingested, but (iii) there is no correlation between symptoms of infection that aid transmission (such as diarrhoea and coughing) and virulence. Overall, our results emphasize how virulence can be influenced by mechanistic life-history details, especially transmission mode, that determine how parasites infect and exploit their hosts.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Growth, Infective dose, Parasites, Trade-offs, Transmission, Virulence
in
Royal Society of London. Philosophical Transactions B. Biological Sciences
volume
372
issue
1719
publisher
Royal Society
external identifiers
  • scopus:85015145677
  • wos:000397800300012
ISSN
0962-8436
DOI
10.1098/rstb.2016.0094
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
75041dc7-4967-4478-af83-0eb395177b86
date added to LUP
2017-03-29 14:12:23
date last changed
2017-09-18 11:34:25
@article{75041dc7-4967-4478-af83-0eb395177b86,
  abstract     = {<p>The harm that pathogens cause to hosts during infection, termed virulence, varies across species from negligible to a high likelihood of rapid death. Classic theory for the evolution of virulence is based on a trade-off between pathogen growth, transmission and host survival, which predicts that higher within-host growth causes increased transmission and higher virulence. However, using data from 61 human pathogens, we found the opposite correlation to the expected positive correlation between pathogen growth rate and virulence. We found that (i) slower growing pathogens are significantly more virulent than faster growing pathogens, (ii) inhaled pathogens and pathogens that infect via skin wounds are significantly more virulent than pathogens that are ingested, but (iii) there is no correlation between symptoms of infection that aid transmission (such as diarrhoea and coughing) and virulence. Overall, our results emphasize how virulence can be influenced by mechanistic life-history details, especially transmission mode, that determine how parasites infect and exploit their hosts.</p>},
  articleno    = {20160094},
  author       = {Leggett, Helen C and Cornwallis, Charlie K. and Buckling, Angus and West, Stuart A.},
  issn         = {0962-8436},
  keyword      = {Growth,Infective dose,Parasites,Trade-offs,Transmission,Virulence},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {03},
  number       = {1719},
  publisher    = {Royal Society},
  series       = {Royal Society of London. Philosophical Transactions B. Biological Sciences},
  title        = {Growth rate, transmission mode and virulence in human pathogens},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2016.0094},
  volume       = {372},
  year         = {2017},
}