Meeting Abstract

S7.2-4  Monday, Jan. 6 11:30  Manipulation of host phenotypes by vector-borne pathogens of plants and animals MESCHER, M.C.; Penn State University / ETH Zurich mcmescher@gmail.com

Parasite manipulation of hosts has been studied extensively, but relatively little work has explored the ways in which vector-borne pathogens may alter the phenotypes of their primary and secondary hosts in order to influence host-vector interactions and enhance transmission. Such effects are likely to have considerable relevance for human health, agriculture, and the ecology of natural systems, and recent studies have begun to document examples of manipulation by insect-vectored pathogens of plants and animals—including direct effects on vector behavior, but also effects on host phenotypes that influence attractiveness or apparency to vectors (including pathogen-induced changes in host-derived olfactory cues). Such alteration of host phenotypes has implications not only for disease ecology but also for the development of diagnostic biomarkers of infection with applications in medicine and agriculture. I will discuss recent advances in this area and present findings from our own work on viral and bacterial plant pathogens and on human malaria, which suggest (i) that pathogens may frequently alter host phenotypes in ways conducive to transmission and (ii) that the mode of transmission plays a key role in shaping the evolution of such effects.