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To fight disease, animals, like plants, can tolerate parasites
Date:11/6/2007

ed. The mice can either kill parasites or tolerate them, but they cannot do both.

Resistance and tolerance are both part of an evolutionary game plan that plants and animals adopt in response to infections, says the Penn State researcher. And in both cases, there is a trade-off.

Resistant hosts are successful in preventing disease but over time the bugs learn to beat them, forcing the hosts to build a stronger resistance. It is a never-ending arms race, noted Read, whose work is funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Swedish Research Council.

"But in the case of tolerance, the host is no longer trying to harm the pathogen, and the arms race stops," he added. Plants and animals simply learn to live with the pathogens.

The Penn State researcher cautions against generalizing the findings but points out that results from the study will provide a better picture of the progression of disease in animals.

While it is not yet clear whether one is better than the other, researchers say that an understanding of disease tolerance and disease resistance could help in picking optimal selection strategies in the breeding of agricultural animals.


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Contact: Amitabh Avasthi
axa47@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert

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