On the diverse and opposing effects of nutrition on pathogen virulence
Pike VL., Lythgoe KA., King KC.
<jats:p>Climate change and anthropogenic activity are currently driving large changes in nutritional availability across ecosystems, with consequences for infectious disease. An increase in host nutrition could lead to more resources for hosts to expend on the immune system or for pathogens to exploit. In this paper, we report a meta-analysis of studies on host–pathogen systems across the tree of life, to examine the impact of host nutritional quality and quantity on pathogen virulence. We did not find broad support across studies for a one-way effect of nutrient availability on pathogen virulence. We thus discuss a hypothesis that there is a balance between the effect of host nutrition on the immune system and on pathogen resources, with the pivot point of the balance differing for vertebrate and invertebrate hosts. Our results suggest that variation in nutrition, caused by natural or anthropogenic factors, can have diverse effects on infectious disease outcomes across species.</jats:p>