Toward an integrative molecular approach to wildlife disease.

TitleToward an integrative molecular approach to wildlife disease.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsDeCandia, AL, Dobson, AP, vonHoldt, BM
JournalConserv Biol
Date Published2018 Jan 29

Pathogens pose serious threats to human health, agricultural investment, and biodiversity conservation through the emergence of zoonoses, spillover to domestic livestock, and epizootic outbreaks. As such, wildlife managers are often tasked with mitigating the negative effects of disease. Yet parasites form a major component of biodiversity that often persist. Not only is this due to logistical challenges of implementing management strategies, but also to insufficient understanding of host-parasite dynamics. Here, we advocate for an inclusive understanding of molecular diversity in driving parasite infection and variable host disease states in wildlife systems. We discuss the roles of genetic, epigenetic, and commensal microbial variation in disease pathogenesis, and highlight key case studies that exemplify the broad range of questions that can be addressed by examining different facets of molecular diversity. For particularly complex systems, integrative molecular analyses present a promising frontier that can provide critical insights necessary to elucidate disease dynamics operating across scales. These insights enable more accurate risk assessment, reconstruction of transmission pathways, discernment of optimal intervention strategies, and development of more effective and ecologically sound treatments that minimize damage to the host population and environment. Such measures are crucial when mitigating threats posed by wildlife disease to humans, domestic animals, and species of conservation concern. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Alternate JournalConserv. Biol.
PubMed ID29380417