Patterns and Processes in Parasite Co-Infection

Mark E. Viney, Andrea Linn Graham

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

29 Scopus citations

Abstract

Co-infection of individual hosts by multiple parasite species is a pattern that is very commonly observed in natural populations. Understanding the processes that generate these patterns poses a challenge. For example, it is difficult to discern the relative roles of exposure and susceptibility in generating the mixture and density of parasites within hosts. Yet discern them we must, if we are to design and deliver successful medical interventions for co-infected populations. Here, we synthesise an emergent understanding of how processes operate and interact to generate patterns of co-infection. We consider within-host communities (or infracommunities) generally, that is including not only classical parasites but also the microbiota that are so abundant on mucosal surfaces and which are increasingly understood to be so influential on host biology. We focus on communities that include a helminth, but we expect similar inferences to pertain to other taxa. We suggest that, thanks to recent research at both the within-host (e.g. immunological) and between-host (e.g. epidemiological) scales, researchers are poised to reveal the processes that generate the observed distribution of parasite communities among hosts. Progress will be facilitated by using new technologies as well as statistical and experimental tools to test competing hypotheses about processes that might generate patterns in co-infection data. By understanding the multiple interactions that underlie patterns of co-infection, we will be able to understand and intelligently predict how a suite of co-infections (and thus the host that bears them) will together respond to medical interventions as well as other environmental changes. The challenge for us all is to become scholars of co-infections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Parasitology
PublisherAcademic Press
Pages321-369
Number of pages49
DOIs
StatePublished - 2013

Publication series

NameAdvances in Parasitology
Volume82
ISSN (Print)0065-308X

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology

Keywords

  • Concomitant infection
  • Heterologous immunity
  • Microbiome
  • Microbiota
  • Polyparasitism

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  • Cite this

    Viney, M. E., & Graham, A. L. (2013). Patterns and Processes in Parasite Co-Infection. In Advances in Parasitology (pp. 321-369). (Advances in Parasitology; Vol. 82). Academic Press. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-407706-5.00005-8