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A transmissible cancer shifts from emergence to endemism in Tasmanian devils


Patton, AH and Lawrance, MF and Margres, MJ and Kozakiewicz, CP and Hamede, R and Ruiz Aravena, M and Hamilton, DG and Comte, S and Ricci, LE and Taylor, RL and Stadler, T and Leache, A and McCallum, H and Jones, ME and Hohenlohe, PA and Storfer, A, A transmissible cancer shifts from emergence to endemism in Tasmanian devils, Science, 370, (6522) Article eabb9772. ISSN 0036-8075 (2020) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1126/science.abb9772


Emerging infectious diseases pose one of the greatest threats to human health and biodiversity. Phylodynamics is often used to infer epidemiological parameters essential for guiding intervention strategies for human viruses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-Cov-2). Here, we applied phylodynamics to elucidate the epidemiological dynamics of Tasmanian devil facial tumor disease (DFTD), a fatal, transmissible cancer with a genome thousands of times larger than that of any virus. Despite prior predictions of devil extinction, transmission rates have declined precipitously from ~3.5 secondary infections per infected individual to ~1.5 at present. Thus, DFTD appears to be transitioning from emergence to endemism, lending hope for the continued survival of the endangered Tasmanian devil. More generally, our study demonstrates a new phylodynamic analytical framework that can be applied to virtually any pathogen.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Tasmanian devil, disease, DFTD, phylodynamics, epidemiology
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Genetics
Research Field:Genomics
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Control of pests, diseases and exotic species in terrestrial environments
UTAS Author:Hamede, R (Dr Rodrigo Hamede Ross)
UTAS Author:Ruiz Aravena, M (Mr Manuel Ruiz Aravena)
UTAS Author:Hamilton, DG (Mr David Hamilton)
UTAS Author:Comte, S (Mr Sebastien Comte)
UTAS Author:Taylor, RL (Ms Robyn Taylor)
UTAS Author:Jones, ME (Professor Menna Jones)
ID Code:142305
Year Published:2020
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2021-01-07
Last Modified:2021-01-13

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