The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Revealing the evolutionary dynamics of pathogens in primate populations


Anthropology, University of Iowa

Thursday 8:00-8:15, Ballroom A Add to calendar

Recent advances in DNA/RNA sequencing technology, combined with newly developed population genetic and phylogenetic models, have allowed researchers to investigate the evolutionary dynamics of primate pathogens to an unprecedented level of detail. Predictably, this has sparked an exponential increase in the number of studies concerning the dynamics and origins of important primate pathogens and parasites. In this introductory presentation, I will discuss how these advances have led us to question previous assumptions about primate pathogen evolution, whilst revealing surprising aspects of pathogen dynamics in primates. I will use recent examples of studies that highlight notable insights at both the macro- and micro-evolutionary scales, and use this framework to relate these findings to inferences that we may make about the shared evolutionary histories of primates and their pathogens. Specifically, I will briefly discuss findings concerning the notably rapid evolution of dsDNA viruses (e.g., pox- and polyomaviruses), the propensity of RNA viruses to establish novel lineages via host-jumping (e.g., the flaviviruses), and the utility of large-scale bacterial genome sequencing for tracing the historical origins of on-going epidemics in developing countries (e.g., Shigella sonnei).

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