Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Theor Biol. 2006 Oct 7;242(3):634-42. Epub 2006 Apr 25.

Evolution of pathogens towards low R0 in heterogeneous populations.

Author information

Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Rd., OX1 3PS, UK.


Maximization of the basic reproduction ratio or R(0) is widely believed to drive the emergence of novel pathogens. The presence of exploitable heterogeneities in a population, such as high variance in the number of potentially infectious contacts, increases R(0) and thus pathogens that can exploit heterogeneities in the contact structure have an advantage over those that do not. However, exploitation of heterogeneities results in a more rapid depletion of the potentially susceptible neighbourhood for an infected host. Here a simple model of pathogen evolution in a heterogeneous environment is developed and placed in the context of HIV transmission. In this model, it is shown that pathogens may evolve towards lower R(0), even if this results in pathogen extinction. For sufficiently high transmissibility, two locally stable strategies exist for an evolving pathogen, one that exploits heterogeneities and results in higher R(0), and one that does not, and results in lower R(0). While the low R(0) strategy is never evolutionarily stable, invading strains with higher R(0) will also converge to the low R(0) strategy if not sufficiently different from the resident strain. Heterogenous transmission is increasingly recognized as fundamental to epidemiological dynamics and the evolution of pathogens; here, it is shown that the ability to exploit heterogeneity is a strategy that can itself evolve.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center