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Award Abstract #1305836

CAREER: Rapid host-parasite evolution and its effects on host invasions: a resurrection ecology study

Division Of Environmental Biology
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Initial Amendment Date: January 8, 2013
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Latest Amendment Date: February 9, 2016
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Award Number: 1305836
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Award Instrument: Continuing grant
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Program Manager: Saran Twombly
DEB Division Of Environmental Biology
BIO Direct For Biological Sciences
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Start Date: September 1, 2012
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End Date: April 30, 2017 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $746,459.00
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Investigator(s): Meghan Duffy duffymeg@umich.edu (Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: University of Michigan Ann Arbor
3003 South State St. Room 1062
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1274 (734)763-6438
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Program Reference Code(s): 1045, 1182, 1187, 1228, 1355, 9169, 9178, 9251, CL10, EGCH, SMET
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Program Element Code(s): 1182, 7377, 9103, 9106


As rates of parasitism increase and species invasions skyrocket, there are increasing numbers of outbreaks of disease that result from novel host-parasite pairings. How do hosts and parasites evolve in response to these new interactions, and what are the consequences for ecological dynamics of native and invasive hosts? This project uses interactions among a native bacterial parasite, a native zooplankton host, and an invasive zooplankton host that is now infected by the native bacterial parasite to ask how parasites adapt when they first enter a novel host. Existing genetic archives for both host and parasite provide a rare opportunity to study the important process of how pathogens that originate in one host species move to another; this host switch is very difficult to observe in nature. In addition, observational studies of lake populations, laboratory experiments and mathematical models will be used to understand how parasitism influences population dynamics of native and invasive hosts.

An important component of this project involves educating, training and diversifying the next generation of scientists. The principal investigator will work with science educators to develop hands-on, experiential learning activities for inner city children in Atlanta, focusing on plankton and microbes. Informal science education activities aimed at the general public will also be developed, and will be used to engage visitors to an inner city park. Pre-teacher undergraduates from Georgia Tech will be trained in scientific research, educational research, and pedagogy. In addition, students from Georgia Tech and nearby Spelman College will be involved in the proposed research, gaining valuable research experience. Finally, because many new human pathogens likely arose in different hosts, understanding the process by which pathogens jump from one host to another will have broad societal significance.


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Auld, Stuart K. J. R.; Hall, Spencer R.; Duffy, Meghan A.. "Epidemiology of a Daphnia-Multiparasite System and Its Implications for the Red Queen," PLOS ONE, v.7, 2012, p. e39564.

Searle, C.L., J.R. Mendelson III, L.E. Green, and M.A. Duffy. "Daphnia predation on the amphibian chytrid fungus and its impacts on disease risk in tadpoles," Ecology and Evolution, v.3, 2013, p. 4129.

Auld, S.K.J.R.*, S.R. Hall, J.H. Ochs, M. Sebastian, and M.A. Duffy. "Predators and patterns of within-host growth can mediate both among-host competition and the evolution of transmission potential of parasites," American Naturalist, v.184, 2014, p. S77. 

Cáceres, C.E., A.J. Tessier, M.A. Duffy, and S.R. Hall. "Disease in freshwater zooplankton: what have we learned and where are we going?," Journal of Plankton Research, v.36, 2014, p. 326. 

Searle, C.L., J. Housley Ochs, C.E. Cáceres, S. Chiang, N.M. Gerardo, S.R. Hall, and M.A. Duffy. "Plasticity, not genetic variation, drives infection success of a fungal parasite," Parasitology, v.142, 2015, p. 839. 

Searle, C.L., Mendelson, J.R., Green, L.E., Duffy, M.A.. "Daphnia predation on the amphibian chytrid fungus and its impacts on disease risk in tadpoles," Ecology and Evolution, v.3, 2013, p. 4129. 

Catherine L. Searle, Clara L. Shaw, Katherine K. Hunsberger, Magen Prado, and Meghan A. Duffy. "Salinization from road salt decreases population densities of the freshwater crustacean, Daphnia dentifera, in experimental mesocosms," Hydrobiologia, 2016.

Meghan A. Duffy, Timothy Y. James, Alan Longworth. "Ecology, virulence, and phylogeny of Blastulidium paedophthorum, a widespread brood parasite of Daphnia," Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2016.


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