Pathogens manipulate the preference of vectors, slowing disease spread in a multi-host system

Lauren G. Shoemaker, Evelyn Hayhurst, Christopher P. Weiss-Lehman, Alexander T. Strauss, Anita Porath-Krause, Elizabeth T. Borer, Eric W. Seabloom, Allison K. Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

2 Scopus citations


The spread of vector-borne pathogens depends on a complex set of interactions among pathogen, vector, and host. In single-host systems, pathogens can induce changes in vector preferences for infected vs. healthy hosts. Yet it is unclear if pathogens also induce changes in vector preference among host species, and how changes in vector behaviour alter the ecological dynamics of disease spread. Here, we couple multi-host preference experiments with a novel model of vector preference general to both single and multi-host communities. We show that viruliferous aphids exhibit strong preferences for healthy and long-lived hosts. Coupling experimental results with modelling to account for preference leads to a strong decrease in overall pathogen spread through multi-host communities due to non-random sorting of viruliferous vectors between preferred and non-preferred host species. Our results demonstrate the importance of the interplay between vector behaviour and host diversity as a key mechanism in the spread of vectored-diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1115-1125
Number of pages11
JournalEcology letters
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • Barley/cereal yellow dwarf virus
  • behavioural ecology
  • disease ecology
  • host diversity
  • pathogen transmission
  • vector behaviour
  • vector manipulation hypothesis
  • vector-borne disease
  • vectored disease modelling

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Letter

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