Evolution of Immunity and Pathogens.
Pathogen-Host Interactions: Antigenic Variation v. Somatic Adaptations
Results and problems in cell differentiation, January 2015
Jack, Robert S, Robert S. Jack
Host and pathogen engage in a constant evolutionary struggle known as a "Red Queen Paradigm". In this struggle, natural selection favours the pathogen which evolves effective virulence mechanisms and the host which is able to field adequate resistance strategies. A number of factors limit what each side can do. These include the fact that the elaboration of virulence or resistance mechanisms results in costs in genetic fitness and requires the use of ever more of the limited number of genes available in the genome. In addition, since the pathogen usually has a very much shorter generation time than the host, it can fix new virulence mutations much more quickly than the host can evolve matching resistance mechanisms. Finally, the host must ensure that its defence system does not result in unacceptable levels of collateral damage to its own tissues. This chapter briefly outlines how these considerations shape host-pathogen interactions.
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