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Science. 1998 Nov 20;282(5393):1432-5.

Experimental evolution of parasites.

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  • 1Universit├Ąt Basel, Zoologisches Institut, Rheinsprung 9, 4051 Basel, Switzerland.


Serial passage experiments are a form of experimental evolution that is frequently used in applied sciences; for example, in vaccine development. During these experiments, molecular and phenotypic evolution can be monitored in real time, providing insights into the causes and consequences of parasite evolution. Within-host competition generally drives an increase in a parasite's virulence in a new host, whereas the parasite becomes avirulent to its former host, indicating a trade-off between parasite fitnesses on different hosts. Understanding why parasite virulence seldom escalates similarly in natural populations could help us to manage virulence and deal with emerging diseases.

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