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

Mario Garrido, Snir Halle, Ron Flatau, Carmit Cohen, Álvaro Navarro-Castilla, Isabel Barja, Hadas Hawlena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Disentangling the mechanisms that mediate the relationships between species diversity and disease risk has both theoretical and applied implications. We employed a model system of rodents and their Mycoplasma pathogens, in which an extreme negative diversity-disease relationship was demonstrated, to test the assumptions underlying three mechanisms that may explain this field pattern. Through quantifying the long-term dynamics and effects of the pathogen in its three host species, we estimated the between-host differences in pathogen spreading and transmission potentials, and host recovery potential and vulnerability to infection. The results suggest that one of the hosts is a pathogen amplifier and the other two hosts function as diluters. Considering the similarity in infection success and intensity among hosts, and the failure to detect any pathogen-induced damage, we could not validate the assumption underlying the hypotheses that diluters reduce the overall transmission or increase the mortality of infected hosts in the system. Instead, the results demonstrate that diluters clear the infection faster than amplifiers, supporting the possibility that the addition of diluters to the community may reduce the overall number of infected hosts through this mechanism. This study highlights the contribution of experimental studies that simultaneously explore different aspects of host-pathogen interactions in multiple hosts, in diversity-disease research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20210773
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume288
Issue number1952
DOIs
StatePublished - 9 Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • dilution effect
  • diversity-disease relationship
  • infected host mortality
  • multi-host communities
  • recovery augmentation
  • transmission reduction

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