Jun. 16, 2021

"The dilution effect behind the scenes: testing the underlying assumptions of its mechanisms through quantifying the long-term dynamics and effects of a pathogen in multiple host species.​​​"

A new paper by Mario Garrido, Snir Halle, Ron Flatau, Carmit Cohen, Álvaro Navarro-Castilla, Isabel Barja, and Hadas Hawlena came out last week in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2021.0773.​

How can species diversity reduce disease risk? ​

Species diversity often reduces pathogen occurrence, but how? In a recent study, ecologists showed that this reduction, termed a dilution effect, may occur when species in diverse communities act as alternative hosts that rid themselves of a pathogen more quickly than does its main host. These findings were obtained through a long-term experimental exploration of behavioral and physiological aspects of the interaction between the Mycoplama pathogen and each of its hosts, highlighting this approach as a powerful assessment of natural processes. Learning that Mycoplasma dilution occurs without harming the host suggests that pathogen control can be achieved by diluter enrichment.

Mario Garrido (gaiarrido@gmail.com) and Hadas Hawlena (hadashaw@bgu.ac.il), The Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Midreshet Ben-Gurion, Israel