Pathogen dynamics across the diversity of aging

Clark, J. , McNally, L. and Little, T. J. (2021) Pathogen dynamics across the diversity of aging. American Naturalist, 197(2), pp. 203-215. (doi: 10.1086/712380) (PMID:33523786)

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Reproduction, mortality, and immune function often change with age but do not invariably deteriorate. Across the tree of life, there is extensive variation in age-specific performance and changes to key life-history traits. These changes occur on a spectrum from classic senescence, where performance declines with age, to juvenescence, where performance improves with age. Reproduction, mortality, and immune function are also important factors influencing the spread of infectious disease, yet there exists no comprehensive investigation into how the aging spectrum of these traits impacts epidemics. We used a model laboratory infection system to compile an aging profile of a single organism, including traits directly linked to pathogen susceptibility and those that should indirectly alter pathogen transmission by influencing demography. We then developed generalizable epidemiological models demonstrating that different patterns of aging produce dramatically different transmission landscapes: in many cases, aging can reduce the probability of epidemics, but it can also promote severity. This work provides context and tools for use across taxa by empiricists, demographers, and epidemiologists, advancing our ability to accurately predict factors contributing to epidemics or the potential repercussions of senescence manipulation.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:J.C. was funded by an Edinburgh Earth and Environment Doctoral Training Partnership (E3 DTP) award from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Clark, Dr Jessica
Authors: Clark, J., McNally, L., and Little, T. J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:American Naturalist
Publisher:University of Chicago Press
ISSN (Online):1537-5323
Published Online:08 January 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The University of Chicago
First Published:First published in American Naturalist 197(2): 203-215
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy
Data DOI:10.5061/dryad.8cz8w9gnh

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