Community ecology can advance the fight against infectious diseases
Department of Biology professor and PBEE faculty member, Jaap De Roode, was featured in an article in Medical News Today. He is a co-author of a new paper that is advancing a multidisciplinary framework that could provide a better mechanistic understanding of emerging outbreaks. Despite continued medical advances, infectious diseases kill over 10 million people worldwide each year. The ecological complexity of many emerging disease threats--interactions among multiple hosts, multiple vectors and even multiple parasites--often complicates efforts aimed at controlling disease.
In a study published in the journal Science, researchers demonstrate how community ecology, which focuses on how species interact across different scales of biological organization, can provide new analytical tools for thinking about diseases and their wide-ranging impacts.
The study highlights the need for a broad contextual understanding of diseases. Strategies range from managing symbiotic microbial communities within individuals (encouraging beneficial gut bacteria, for example) to preserving biodiversity on a large ecological scale.