Effects of emerging infectious diseases on host population genetics: a review

McKnight, Donald T., Schwarzkopf, Lin, Alford, Ross A., Bower, Deborah S., and Zenger, Kyall R. (2017) Effects of emerging infectious diseases on host population genetics: a review. Conservation Genetics, 18. pp. 1235-1245.

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Emerging infectious diseases threaten the survival of many species and populations by causing large declines and altering life history traits and population demographics. Therefore, it is imperative to understand how diseases impact wildlife populations so that effective management strategies can be planned. Many studies have focused on understanding the ecology of host/pathogen interactions, but it is equally important to understand the effects on host population genetic structure. In this review, we examined the literature on how infectious diseases influence host population genetic makeup, with a particular focus on whether or not they alter gene flow patterns, reduce genetic variability, and drive selection. Although the results were mixed, there was evidence for all of these outcomes. Diseases often fragmented populations into small, genetically distinct units with limited gene flow among them. In some cases, these isolated populations showed the genetic hallmarks of bottlenecks and inbreeding, but in other populations, there was sufficient gene flow or enough survivors to prevent genetic drift and inbreeding. Direct evidence of diseases acting as selective pressures in wild populations is somewhat limited, but there are several clear examples of it occurring. Also, several studies found that gene flow can impact the evolution of small populations either beneficially, by providing them with variation, or detrimentally, by swamping them with alleles that are not locally adaptive. Thus, differences in gene flow levels may explain why some species adapt while others do not. There are also intermediate cases, whereby some species may adapt to disease, but not at a rate that is meaningful for conservation purposes.

Item ID: 49819
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1572-9737
Keywords: adaptation, fragmentation, gene flow, genetic drift, population genetics
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A version of this publication was included as Chapter 2 of the following PhD thesis: McKnight, Donald T. (2019) Life finds a way: the recovery of frog populations from a chytridiomycosis outbreak. PhD thesis, James Cook University, which is available Open Access in ResearchOnline@JCU. Please see the Related URLs for access.

Date Deposited: 14 Aug 2017 23:14
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3105 Genetics > 310599 Genetics not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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