Landscape genetics has provided many insights into how heterogeneous landscape features drive processes influencing spatial genetic variation in free-living organisms. This rapidly developing field has focused heavily on vertebrates, and expansion of this scope to the study of infectious diseases holds great potential for landscape geneticists and disease ecologists alike. The potential application of landscape genetics to infectious agents has garnered attention at formative stages in the development of landscape genetics, but systematic examination is lacking. We comprehensively review how landscape genetics is being used to better understand pathogen dynamics. We characterize the field and evaluate the types of questions addressed, approaches used and systems studied. We also review the now established landscape genetic methods and their realized and potential applications to disease ecology. Lastly, we identify emerging frontiers in the landscape genetic study of infectious agents, including recent phylogeographic approaches and frameworks for studying complex multihost and host-vector systems. Our review emphasizes the expanding utility of landscape genetic methods available for elucidating key pathogen dynamics (particularly transmission and spread) and also how landscape genetic studies of pathogens can provide insight into host population dynamics. Through this review, we convey how increasing awareness of the complementarity of landscape genetics and disease ecology among practitioners of each field promises to drive important cross-disciplinary advances.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by a National Research Foundation Ecology of Infectious Diseases research programme grant (DEB 1413925) awarded to S.V., S.C., W.C.F., K.R.C., M.E.C. and H.B.E. C.P.K. was supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship.
- disease ecology
- infectious disease
- landscape epidemiology
- landscape genetics
- pathogen dynamics