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Trends Ecol Evol. 1988 Oct;3(10):254-9. doi: 10.1016/0169-5347(88)90058-4.

Interactive influence of infectious disease and genetic diversity in natural populations.

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  • 1Laboratory of Viral Carcinogenesis, National Cancer Institute, Frederick, Maryland 21701-1013, USA.


The importance of infectious disease in the survival and adaptation of animal populations is rapidly becoming apparent. Throughout evolution, animal species have been continually afflicted with devastating disease outbreaks which have influenced the demographic and genetic status of the populations. Some general population consequences of such epidemics include selection for disease resistance, the occasional alteration of host gene frequencies by a genetic 'founder effect' after an outbreak, and genetic adaptation of parasites to abrogate host defense mechanisms. A wide variety of host cellular genes which are polymorphic within species and which confer a regulatory effect on the outcome of infectious diseases has recently been discovered. The critical importance of maintaining genetic diversity with respect to disease defense genes in natural populations is indicated by certain populations which have reduced genetic variability and apparent increased vulnerability to infectious disease.

Copyright © 1988. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

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