Coevolutionary cycling of host sociality and pathogen virulence in contact networks

F. Prado, A. Sheih, J.D. West, B. Kerr
Journal of Theoretical Biology 261(4), 561, 2009.

Infectious diseases may place strong selection on the social organization of animals. Conversely, the structure of social systems can influence the evolutionary trajectories of pathogens. While much attention has focused on the evolution of host sociality or pathogen virulence separately, few studies have looked at their coevolution. Here we use an agent-based simulation to explore host–pathogen coevolution in social contact networks. Our results indicate that under certain conditions, both host sociality and pathogen virulence exhibit continuous cycling. The way pathogens move through the network (e.g., their interhost transmission and probability of superinfection) and the structure of the network can influence the existence and form of cycling.

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