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The role of immune selection on the population structure of metabolic genes in pathogenic bacteria

Presented by: 
S Guptal University of Oxford
Tuesday 25th November 2014 - 14:00 to 15:00
INI Seminar Room 2
We have developed multilocus models for pathogen evolution (1) that resolve the paradox that many pathogen populations exist, either stably or unstably, as discrete antigenic types, which may then circulate as independently transmitted strains with their own particular virulence characteristics. This hypothesis was originally formulated in the context of Plasmodium falciparum malaria but its principal conclusions have received strongest support so far from studies of bacterial pathogens such as Neisseria meningitis and Streptoccocus pneumonaie. We have also used this general framework to address the long-standing conundrum of why bacterial lineages (as defined by combinations of housekeeping genes) persist over long time periods despite frequent genetic exchange. Our analyses reveal that these genes can exhibit long-term linkage disequilibrium as a consequence of immune-mediated competition, even though they are not themselves under immune selection (2). I will attempt to discuss the implications of these results for microbial communities in general.

1. Gupta S, Ferguson NM & Anderson RM (1998) Chaos, persistence and the evolution of strain structure in populations of antigenically variable infectious agents. Science 240:912 915.

2. Buckee CO, Jolley KA, Recker M, Penman B, Kriz P, Gupta S & Maiden M. (2008) Role of selection in the emergence of lineages and the evolution of virulence in Neisseria meningitidis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A :15082-7.
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University of Cambridge Research Councils UK
    Clay Mathematics Institute London Mathematical Society NM Rothschild and Sons