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Applying predator-prey theory to modelling immune-mediated, within-host interspecific parasite interactions

Fenton, Andy and Perkins, Sarah E. ORCID: 2010. Applying predator-prey theory to modelling immune-mediated, within-host interspecific parasite interactions. Parasitology 137 (6) , pp. 1027-1038. 10.1017/S0031182009991788

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Predator-prey models are often applied to the interactions between host immunity and parasite growth. A key component of these models is the immune system's functional response, the relationship between immune activity and parasite load. Typically, models assume a simple, linear functional response. However, based on the mechanistic interactions between parasites and immunity we argue that alternative forms are more likely, resulting in very different predictions, ranging from parasite exclusion to chronic infection. By extending this framework to consider multiple infections we show that combinations of parasites eliciting different functional responses greatly affect community stability. Indeed, some parasites may stabilize other species that would be unstable if infecting alone. Therefore hosts' immune systems may have adapted to tolerate certain parasites, rather than clear them and risk erratic parasite dynamics. We urge for more detailed empirical information relating immune activity to parasite load to enable better predictions of the dynamic consequences of immune-mediated interspecific interactions within parasite communities.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: parasite communities; functional response; predator-prey models; Lotka-Volterra; immune response; community stability; parasite co-infection
Additional Information: Pdf uploaded in accordance with publisher's policy at (accessed 24/02/2014).
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 0031-1820
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 18:41

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