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BIOBIOT-Biologi, bioteknologi, Mat. Nat.

Testing the cost-of-virulence hypothesis: Does a horizontally transmitted parasite have an optimal virulence?

Awarded: NOK 1.6 mill.

Parasitism is a constant threat to human health, food production and wildlife conservation. Some species, or strains, produce highly lethal diseases while others are benign. Trying to understand the reasons for this variation in virulence is one of the ma jor challenges in epidemiology. In this project we will test one of the fundamental assumptions on which virulence theory is based on, but where the empirical evidence is poo r: is there a trade off between virulence and transmission that will stop virule nce from escalating? We will use a simple experimental model, consisting of the planktonic crustacean Daphnia magna and the bacterium Pasteuria ramosa. In this system bacteria l spores are released only after the host is dead, which makes it ideal for mea surements of parasite fitness. We will select for high and low virulence, and test ifthe most virulent strains reach an optimal level in terms of fitness.

Funding scheme:

BIOBIOT-Biologi, bioteknologi, Mat. Nat.

Funding Sources

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