Wi Immunologists
Amy Pedersen

Much of the research in disease ecology and evolution has traditionally focused on a one host–one parasite framework. And yet, in natural systems, hosts are usually co- infected by multiple parasites, and many parasites can infect several host species. My research aims to understand how these real-world complexities drive the ecology and evolution of parasites and their hosts.

My current and future work focuses on two major themes: 

1. The interactions between co-infecting parasites and implications for host health and disease transmission.
Individuals are often co-infected by many different parasite species, and within-host interactions between these species may be critical to the fitness and dynamics of these co-infecting parasites. A growing literature emphasises the potential importance of such dynamics to population and community ecology. However, evidence of interactions between co-infecting parasites in natural populations remains equivocal. Many key questions remain unanswered, particularly relating to how parasite communities respond to perturbations (e.g. disease control programmes, climate change or the invasion of novel parasites). I explore these questions using two distinct approaches:
(i) Stability and resilience of parasite communities in a wild mouse population
(ii) Understanding the role of co-infection in the success of treatment strategies and global health policies

 
2. How parasites able to persist on multiple hosts (i.e. multi-host parasites) contribute to host shifts and disease emergence.

The dynamics of infectious disease has often been studied in single host species infected by a single parasite species, and yet the majority of human and primate pathogens, and carnivore and ungulate parasites can actually infect more than one host species. These multi-host pathogens are associated with emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) in humans, agriculture and wildlife around the world. My aim is to understand the general conditions that cause diseases to emerge. This will help guide policies and approaches in important human, animal and plant disease systems. I explore these issues using two distinct approaches:
(i) Experimental disease emergence: bacoluviruses as a model system
(ii) Historical and future disease emergence in humans and wild primates 
To address these inter-related themes, I use a variety of host-pathogen systems and approaches including field-based manipulations, laboratory experiments, theory and comparative analyses.

Amy Pedersen's Web Page