• GUHA DHARMARAJAN

      Articles written in Journal of Genetics

    • Inbreeding in stochastic subdivided mating systems: the genetic consequences of host spatial structure, aggregated transmission dynamics and life history characteristics in parasite populations

      Guha Dharmarajan

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      Inbreeding in parasite populations can have important epidemiological and evolutionary implications. However, theoretical models have predominantly focussed on the evolution of parasite populations under strong selection or in epidemic situations, and our understanding of neutral gene dynamics in parasite populations at equilibrium has been limited to verbal arguments or conceptual models. This study focusses on how host–parasite population dynamics affects observed levels of inbreeding in a random sample of parasites from an infinite population of hosts by bridging traditional genetic and parasitological processes utilizing a backward–forward branching Markov process embedded within a flexible statistical framework, the logarithmic-poisson mixture model. My results indicate that levels of inbreeding in parasites are impacted by demographic and/or transmission dynamics (subdivided mating, aggregated transmission dynamics and host spatial structure), and that this inbreeding is poorly estimated by ‘equilibrium’ levels of inbreeding calculated assuming regular systems of mating. Specifically, the model reveals that at low levels of inbreeding (𝐹 ≤ 0.1), equilibrium levels of inbreeding are lower than those observed, while at high levels of inbreeding the opposite pattern occurs. The model also indicates that inbreeding could have important epidemiological implications (e.g., the spread of recessive drug resistance genes) by directly impacting the observed frequency of rare homozygotes in parasite populations. My results indicate that frequencies of rare homozygotes are affected by aggregated transmission dynamics and host spatial structure, and also that an increase in the frequency of rare homozygotes can be caused by a decrease in effective population size solely due to the presence of a subdivided breeding system.

    • Towards a more healthy conservation paradigm: integrating disease and molecular ecology to aid biological conservation†

      POOJA GUPTA V. V. ROBIN GUHA DHARMARAJAN

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      Parasites, and the diseases they cause, are important from an ecological and evolutionary perspective because they can negatively affect host fitness and can regulate host populations. Consequently, conservation biology has long recognized the vital role that parasites can play in the process of species endangerment and recovery. However, we are only beginning to understand how deeply parasites are embedded in ecological systems, and there is a growing recognition of the important ways in which parasites affect ecosystem structure and function. Thus, there is an urgent need to revisit how parasites are viewed from a conservation perspective and broaden the role that disease ecology plays in conservation-related research and outcomes. This review broadly focusses on the role that disease ecology can play in biological conservation. Our review specifically emphasizes on how the integration of tools and analytical approachesassociated with both disease and molecular ecology can be leveraged to aid conservation biology. Our review first concentrates on diseasemediatedextinctions and wildlife epidemics. We then focus on elucidating how host–parasite interactions has improved our understanding of the eco-evolutionary dynamics affecting hosts at the individual, population, community and ecosystem scales. We believe that the role of parasites as drivers and indicators of ecosystem health is especially an exciting area of research that has the potential to fundamentally alter our view of parasites and their role in biological conservation. The review concludes with a broad overview of the current and potential applications of modern genomic tools in disease ecology to aid biological conservation.

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