Microorganisms, Vol. 7, Pages 182: Host Richness Increases Tuberculosis Disease Risk in Game-Managed Areas

Research paper by Jose Angel Barasona, Christian Gortázar, José de la Fuente, Joaquín Vicente

Indexed on: 25 Jun '19Published on: 24 Jun '19Published in: Microorganisms


Current scientific debate addresses whether species richness in animal communities may negatively moderate pathogen transmission and disease outcome (dilution effect), or to the contrary, if disease emergence benefits from more diverse community assemblages (amplification effect). The result may not depend exclusively on patterns of host species biodiversity but may depend on the specific composition of reservoir hosts and vectors, and their ecology. Host–pathogen interactions have shaped variations in parasite virulence, transmissibility and specificity. In the same way the importance of factors related to host exposure or to life history trade-offs are expected to vary. In this study, we demonstrate that ungulate host species richness correlates with increased community competence to maintain and transmit pathogens of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTC) in game-managed areas in Mediterranean Spain. Therefore, we should consider natural and artificial variations in life histories of pathogens and host communities to characterize the impact of biodiversity on the health of diverse assemblages of human and animal communities. Since most approaches assessing epidemiology and transmission of shared pathogens only involve single- or pair-species, further research is needed to better understand the infection dynamics from complete community assemblages, at least in chronic diseases such as tuberculosis and in non-natural animal communities.