DIMACS Workshop on Models of Co-Evolution of Hosts and Pathogens

October 9 - 11, 2006
DIMACS Center, CoRE Building, Rutgers University

Viggo Andreasen, Roskilde, viggo@fatou.ruc.dk
Andrea Pugliese, Universita di Trento, pugliese@science.unitn.it
Presented under the auspices of the Special Focus on Computational and Mathematical Epidemiology.

It has long been recognized that hosts and pathogens exert strong selective forces on each other. Thus significant coevolution between host and pathogens is to be expected, and with the short generation time of many pathogens, evolution may occur over observable time scales. In fact coevolution has been demonstrated in many host-pathogen systems. For example in the classic gene-for-gene systems, each new resistance gene that is introduced into a (cereal) crop is matched within a few seasons by a virulence gene allowing the (fungal) pathogen to overcome the resistance. The epidemiology of several human diseases can be understood only in an evolutionary context. For long periods Influenza A persistence relies on so-called drift mutations that changes viral antigen sufficiently to allow for reinfection of the same hosts while the evolutionary changes in HIV are so fast that they are an integral part of the infection process within the individual host. More recently it has been proposed that the strain structure in malaria and RSV, among others, should be understood in an evolutionary framework. This workshop will focus on evolutionary and coevolutionary processes at the population level while selection processes within the individual host will be discussed in other workshops. The first models of host-pathogen coevolution were applications of very general descriptions of coevolution. However, with the increased interest in disease transmission dynamics the focus has now moved to descriptions that explicitly utilize epidemic models to describe the frequency dependent nature of the interaction. The mathematical methods for describing multiple interacting types of the pathogen or the interaction between disease and host genetics are in the process of being developed, but have not yet reached maturity. The workshop will bring together mathematical researchers and quantitatively oriented biologists and epidemiologists in the field to discuss the development of mathematical methods as well as to explore evolutionary and coevolutionary aspects of a number of host pathogen systems (malaria, influenza, insect-bacculovirus, RSV).
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Document last modified on October 11, 2005.