Can specialized pathogens colonize distantly related hosts? Schistosome evolution as a case study

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Abstract

Parasites that live in intimate contact with the immune system of their hosts require specialized adaptations to survive in such exposed environments. Once adapted to these demanding environments, it seems such parasites could not easily switch to distantly related hosts [1], and, thus, would be good candidates to diversify congruently with their hosts, i.e., cospeciation. One of the best-known parasite groups is the schistosomes, digenetic (having alternating sexually and asexually reproducing generations in their life cycle) trematodes that live in the vascular system of their vertebrate hosts. Schistosomes achieve notoriety because six of the roughly 100 described species [2,3] cause schistosomiasis, a disease that afflicts 200 million people, mostly in tropical Africa

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Brant, S. V., & Loker, E. S. (2005). Can specialized pathogens colonize distantly related hosts? Schistosome evolution as a case study. PLoS Pathogens. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.0010038

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