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Theor Popul Biol. 2003 Sep;64(2):211-20.

Trade-offs and the evolution of virulence of microparasites: do details matter?

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Department of Biology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


Models of the within-host dynamics of parasites have been used to consider the evolution of microparasites causing acute infections in vertebrate hosts. In this paper, we use these models to examine how the level of virulence to which a parasite evolves, depends on factors such as the relationship between parasite density and its rate of transmission from infected hosts, and the mechanism of parasite-induced pathogenesis. We show that changes in the terms describing transmissibility and pathogenesis may lead to dramatic differences in the level of virulence to which a parasite evolves. This suggests that no single factor is likely to be responsible for the differences in virulence of different parasites, and that understanding of the evolution of virulence of parasites will require a detailed quantitative understanding of the interaction between the parasite and its host.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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