CE02 - Terre vivante

Feedbacks between epidemiology and evolution in spatially complex host-parasite metapopulations – FEEDME

Submission summary

Understanding and predicting the spatial spread of infectious disease represents an important challenge to biologists, given global trends in habitat change, anthropogenic import of animal species and their pathogens and generally increasing mobility. The role of evolution in these processes is still unclear, but may be substantial. We unite distinguished researchers from Montpellier and Lille for a project on spatial eco-evolutionary dynamics in host-parasite systems. Combining theory and experimental evolution in microcosm networks, we integrate (i) spatially explicit metapopulation scenarios, (ii) feedbacks between demography, epidemiology and evolution, and (iii) joint evolution of interaction traits (resistance, virulence), dispersal and life history. Our objective is to uncover how network complexity drives epidemic and evolutionary processes, and to evaluate the efficacy of intervention strategies in such networks. We aim at realistic predictions of host/parasite responses to variable spatial structure, a crucial issue in global change ecology, conservation biology and epidemiology.

The project is organised in three work packages, each with a theory and experimental part:

WP 1. Coevolution with homogeneous spatial structure
(1.1.) We formulate general models of host-parasite (co)evolution in an explicitly spatial metapopulation framework. One novelty is the simultaneous evolution of interaction traits (resistance, virulence) and dispersal. Models consider simple spatial networks and provide predictions for trait evolution and emerging patterns of local adaptation. (1.2.) For natural strains of the freshwater protozoan Paramecium caudatum and its bacterial parasite Holospora undulata, we characterise covariation in interaction, life-history and dispersal traits. We develop molecular markers to complement short-term evolution experiments on standing genetic variation with estimates of strain frequency change. Experiments in 2-patch arenas investigate trade-offs between selection on resistance, virulence and on dispersal. An exploratory transcriptomics project aims at identifying host resistance genes.

WP 2: Epidemiology and evolution in spatially complex networks
(2.1.) We develop a theoretical framework of eco-evolutionary dynamics under realistic spatial configurations (random / modular / dendritic networks). Combining WP 1 theory with recent advances from epidemiology and metacommunity ecology, analytical and simulation models explore the joint evolution of interaction traits and dispersal. We assess feedbacks with spatial spread and distribution of infection and consequences for spatial genetic patterns (local adaptation). (2.2.) In parallel, we perform experimental evolution in microcosm metapopulations with realistic spatial structure, where transmission, dispersal and selection play out freely over interconnected patches. We track epidemics in real time and evaluate trait evolution for different levels of spatial network modularity. By manipulating the genetic composition of base populations, we assess eco-evolutionary feedbacks between epidemiology and evolution.

WP 3: Complex spatial structure and intervention strategies
(3.1.) Using WP 2 theory, we explore eco-evolutionary feedbacks in the context of intervention strategies. We consider different strategic aims (prevention vs elimination), types of intervention (cure vs cull) and spatial configurations (network modularity). Intervention success is compared for scenarios with and without the evolution of host and parasite. (3.2.) Using experimental setups developed in WP 2, we experimentally test certain predictions from the above models. Standing genetic variation of host and parasite is manipulated and the spread of infection tracked for different intervention/landscape scenarios.

Project coordination

Oliver Kaltz (Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution de Montpellier)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


CEFE Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive
ISEM Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution de Montpellier
CIIL UMR9017 Centre d'infection et d'immunité de Lille

Help of the ANR 660,096 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2020 - 48 Months

Useful links

Explorez notre base de projets financés



ANR makes available its datasets on funded projects, click here to find more.

Sign up for the latest news:
Subscribe to our newsletter