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  Accueil > Archives > Program 2007> Evolutionary genetics of host-parasite relationships

Evolutionary genetics of host-parasite relationships


 French version

Roscoff (Brittany), France, September 22-26 2007


Deadline for application: May 15, 2007

  • President : Dieter EBERT
    Universität Basel, Zoologisches Institut, Vesalgasse 1,
    CH-4051 BASEL, Switzerland
    Phone: +41 61 267 03 60 - Fax : +41 61 267 03 62


  • Vice-President : Gabriele SORCI
    Université de Bourgogne, BioGéoSciences, CNRS UMR 5561,
    6 boulevard Gabriel, F-21000 DIJON, France
    Phone: 03 80 39 62 06 - Fax: 03 80 39 63 87
    E-mail: Gabriele Sorci


The Jacques Monod Conference “Evolutionary genetics of host-parasite relationships” aims to provide a state of the art assessment of what evolutionary thinking can contribute to an integrated understanding of the processes shaping host-parasite interactions. The conference is structured in three major topics, which are intimately linked with each other.


Topic 1. Understanding the genetic interactions between hosts and parasites.

Reciprocal selection during host - parasite coevolution is characterized by inverse fitness relationships between the two partners. An increase in fitness for one antagonist goes hand-in-hand with a loss of fitness for the opponent. The key point to understand how hosts evolve in response to the fitness loss caused by parasites and how parasites evolve in response to the fitness loss caused by hosts is the form of the genetic interactions between the opponents. Research in this question spans currently from strongly conceptually oriented studies using models and whole organism approaches to molecular aspects focussing on particular molecules. While the earlier use quantitative approaches from the population level to conclude on the underlying genetics, the later revealed a plethora of mechanisms without analysing the quantitative consequences of these details for the evolution of the system. Aiming to improve communication across scales is in the center of this section.


Topic 2. Host and parasite evolution and the maintenance of sexual reproduction

It has been suggested that sexual reproduction of hosts is a means to overcome the disadvantage of the low evolutionary rate that an asexual host would have in comparison with its rapidly evolving parasites. Combining current theory of the advantage of genetic recombination and outbreeding with the theory on the evolution of virulence, one would predict that hosts continuously evolve to reduce virulence, while their parasites evolve to keep virulence as close as possible to an optimal level for their own life histories. In this arms-race a high evolutionary rate would benefit both opponents. Parasites and hosts might be selected for increased evolutionary rates, even if this has costs. Genetic recombination could provide such an increase. Recent advances in the use of model systems to study the molecular details of host-parasite interactions, combined with experimental approaches to study host and parasite evolution have allowed us to provide first estimates of the possible benefits of genetic recombination. This has lead to considerable progress in our understanding of the possible advantage of sexual reproduction.


Topic 3. The evolutionary genetics of immune defence.

As any phenotypic trait, the immune response is the result of the interplay of a number of genetic and environmental factors. Understanding how selection acts on genes controlling immune defences and how environmental conditions modulate the response to selection can provide us with a better insight into the possible outcome of a host-parasite interaction. “Manipulation” of the immune response with vaccines and drugs is a major medical practice used to protect humans and animals against infectious diseases. Although the discovery of the role of the priming of the immune system on the subsequent risk of infection has represented one of the most important steps towards the control of pathogenic organisms, we should keep in mind that the immune system operates as a selective agent on parasites. As such, we expect parasites to evolve in response to selection exerted on them by the immune system. Recently, concerns have been raised on the use of vaccines that do not bloc, but only reduce, parasite transmission, on the evolution of virulence. This illustrates fairly well how evolutionary thinking can contribute not only to the understanding of the intimate association between hosts and parasites, but also to the decision taking process on the appropriate societal responses to the infectious disease threats.


Conférenciers invités

(Titres provisoires)

ALTIZER Sonia ( Athens , USA ) Seasonal migration drives patterns of immunity and host response to infection in a butterfly-parasite system

BENSCH Staffan ( Lund , Sweden ) Evolution and distribution of avian malaria parasites

BLANC Stéphane ( Montpellier , France ) Adaptation to vector-transmission: the example of non-circulative plant viruses

BONHOEFFER Sebastian ( Zürich , Switzerland ) The evolutionary genetics of HIV-1: Drug resistance and effective population size

DE BOER Rob J. (Utrecht, The Netherlands) Modeling T cell immunity to rapidly replicating viruses

DE MEEUS Thierry ( Montpellier , France ) Levels of population genetics structuring of hosts, parasites and vectors and the role played by host's home, sex, genetics and individuality

DU PASQUIER Louis (Basel, Switzerland) Diversification of immunological recognition in Metazoa

EBERT Dieter (Basel, Switzerland) Coevolution in the Daphnia-microparasite system

ELENA Santiago ( Valencia , Spain ) The evolution of plant defences and virus counter-defences

FLEURY Fréderic ( Villeurbanne , France ) Genetic diversity and phenotypic consequences of interactions between intracellular symbionts and their insect hosts

GANDON Sylvain ( Montpellier , France ) The evolution of sex and recombination in response to fluctuations in epistasis induced by host-parasite coevolution

GRENFELL Bryan ( University Park , USA ) Evolution and herd immunity in acute infectious diseases

HAHN Caldwell ( Laurel , USA ) The cowbird's niche: parasites, hosts, and an exceptional portfolio of immune defenses

LIPSITCH Marc ( Boston , USA ) Why are there so many serotypes of Streptococcus pneumoniae?

LIVELY Curt ( Bloomington , USA ) Host-parasite coevolution and selection for sex

Mc COY Karen (Montpellier, France) Cascading effects in the marine cycle of lyme

MICHALAKIS Yannis (Montpellier, France) Life history traits and host-parasite traits

MILINSKI Manfred ( Ploen , Germany ) Signalling MHC immunogenetics to conspecifics

PENN Dustin ( Vienna , Austria ) Does Salmonella adapt to host genetics?

QUINTANA-MURCI Lluis ( Paris , France ) Human Genome Variability: natural selection and infectious diseases

RAINEY Paul ( Auckland , New Zealand ) Vertical versus horizontal transmission: using selection to alter sensitivity of the genetic switch in bacteriophage lambda-

READ Andrew ( Edinburgh , United Kingdom ) The sociobiology of malaria infections

RIGAUD Thierry ( Dijon , France ) Sources of variations in parasite-induced behavioural changes

SCHMID-HEMPEL Paul ( Zürich , Switzerland ) The ecology of variability in host-parasite interactions

SCHULENBURG Hinrich ( Tübingen , Germany ) Evolution by gene duplication in the immune system of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans

SORCI Gabriele ( Dijon , France ) Evolutionary genetics of the interaction between avian malaria and its vertebrate host

TENAILLON Olivier ( Paris , France ) Genetic and ecologic determinants of the antagonistic coevolution between bacteriophage phiX174 and Escherichia coli

TURNER Paul E. ( New Haven , USA ) Evolutionary ecology of RNA virus emergence

VIA Sara (College Park, USA) Genetics and genomics of adaptation to different host plants by a polyphagous herbivore

ZOOROB Rima ( Villejuif , France ) Molecular Genetics Applied to the study of the Avian Immune System (Chicken)

Deadline for application: May 15, 2007


Registration fee (including board and lodging)

  • 400€ for PhD students
  • 550€ for other participants


Application for registration

The total number of participants is limited to about 115 and all participants are expected to attend for the whole duration of the conference. Selection is made on the basis of the affinity of potential participants with the topics of the conference. Scientists and PhD Students interested in the meeting should send:

  • their curriculum vitae
  • the list of their main publications for the 3 last years
  • the abstract of their presentation to the chairman of the conference before the deadline.


After it, the chairman will select the participants. Except in some particular cases approved by the chairperson, it is recommended that all selected participants present their work during the conference, either in poster form or by a brief in- session talk. The organizers choose the form in which the presentations are made. No payment will be sent with application. Information on how and when to pay will be mailed in due time to those selected.

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