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Am Nat. 2002 Oct;160 Suppl 4:S1-8. doi: 10.1086/342113.

The ubiquitous and varied role of infection in the lives of animals and plants.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA.


Parasitic and symbiotic infections are major forces governing the life histories of plant and animal hosts-a fact that is ever more evident because of recent findings emanating from diverse subdisciplines of biology. Yet, infectious organisms have been relatively little investigated by biologists who study natural populations. Now that new molecular and computational tools allow us to differentiate and track microscopic infectious agents in nature, we are beginning to establish a better appreciation of their effects on larger, more familiar organisms. This special issue on the ecological and evolutionary consequences of infection for plants and animals is based on the annual Vice Presidential Symposium at the meeting of the American Society of Naturalists held in Knoxville, Tennessee, in the summer of 2001.

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