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Coping with Infection

Resistance and Tolerance of Parasites in Soay Sheep


Author(s)

Laura A. Schoenle
Office of Undergraduate Biology
Cornell University
las86@cornell.edu
Cynthia J. Downs
Department of Biology
Hamilton College
cdowns@hamilton.edu

Abstract

This interrupted case study introduces two distinct, but not mutually exclusive, strategies for defending against parasites: resistance and tolerance. Students analyze and interpret research conducted on resistance and tolerance to gastrointestinal parasites in Soay sheep (Ovis aries), and discuss the relative costs and benefits of these defense strategies. Immune responses have costs, and fighting off parasites is not always adaptive. The final part of the case study asks students to look beyond the Soay sheep example and consider how resistance and tolerance could provide insights into the management of infectious disease and antibiotic resistance. This case was designed for an upper level undergraduate vertebrate physiology course, but could also be used in courses like introductory disease ecology, ecological physiology, evolutionary medicine, or immunology.


Objectives

  • Differentiate between resistance and tolerance.
  • Discuss why the costs of parasite defenses, like the immune response, could result in hosts favoring investment in tolerance.
  • Identify the relative costs and benefits of both resistance and tolerance from the perspective of the host and the parasite.
  • Explain why the advantages of resistance and tolerance vary across contexts.
  • Evaluate how both resistance and tolerance could be applied to the management of infectious disease.

Keywords

Tolerance; resistance; parasite; immunology; immunity; infection; ecoimmunology; nematode; soay sheep;

Topical Areas

N/A

Educational Level

Undergraduate upper division, Graduate

Format

PDF

Type / Methods

Discussion, Interrupted

Language

English

Subject Headings

Biology (General)  |   Ecology  |   Physiology  |   Public Health  |   Science (General)  |   Zoology  |  


Date Posted

11/29/2018

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