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It is a commonly held view that genetically homogenous host populations are more vulnerable to infection than genetically diverse populations. The underlying idea, known as the 'monoculture effect,' is well documented in agricultural studies. Low genetic diversity in the wild can result from bottlenecks (that is, founder effects), biparental inbreeding or self-fertilization, any of which might increase the risk of epidemics. Host genetic diversity could buffer populations against epidemics in nature, but it is not clear how much diversity is required to prevent disease spread. Recent theoretical and empirical studies, particularly in Daphnia populations, have helped to establish that genetic diversity can reduce parasite transmission. Here, we review the present theoretical work and empirical evidence, and we suggest a new focus on finding 'diversity thresholds.'

Original publication

DOI

10.1038/hdy.2012.33

Type

Journal article

Journal

Heredity (Edinb)

Publication Date

10/2012

Volume

109

Pages

199 - 203

Keywords

Animals, Computer Simulation, Daphnia, Disease Transmission, Infectious, Founder Effect, Genetic Variation, Genetics, Population, Host-Pathogen Interactions, Humans, Inbreeding, Models, Genetic, Self-Fertilization