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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Parasite Biodiversity and Emerging Pathogens: a Role for Systematics in Limiting Impacts on Genetic Resources (In Proc. of XXI BARC Symposium: Glo-Bal Genetic Resources-Access,ownership & Intellectual Property Rights)

item Hoberg, Eric

Submitted to: Beltsville Agricultural Research Center Symposium
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: June 12, 1996
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Pathogenic parasites represent potential threats to economically important genetic resources within the context of agriculture, conservation and management of recovering, threatened or endangered species. Parasites are ubiquitous, have characteristic host and geographic distributions and predictable life cycles and transmission patterns. Documentation of parasite biodiversity through survey and inventory is requisite to defining endemic versus introduced elements of faunas. Systematics provides the foundation for understanding the history and biogeography of parasite-host assemblages and for predicting the behavior of parasites introduced into new ecological settings. Translocation of hosts and introduction and establishment of "exotic" parasites is a continuing problem. The history of the agriculturally important nematode, Nematodirus battus, demonstrates the concept of introduction and the factors involved in later emergence. In contrast, a pathogenic nematode, Umingmakstrongylus pallikuukensis, of muskoxen in the Canadian Arctic represents an enigma with respect to its origins, contemporary host-range and biogeography. The lungworm, Umingmakstrongylus pallikuukensis, is apparently associated with morbidity and mortality in muskoxen and may have implications for management of wild ruminants in the Arctic. Systematics can be used to address the complex issues surrounding the emergence of pathogenic organisms in domestic and sylvatic systems.

Technical Abstract: Emergence of pathogenic organisms continues as a threat to overall biodiversity and genetic resources in agriculture and conservation biology. Limitation of this threat can be achieved through survey and inventory for biodiversity and the application of systematics to understand the host range, biogeography and history of faunas. Systematics constitutes the foundation for recognition of endemic and introduced elements of faunas and as a basis for predicting the behavior of pathogens introduced to new ecological settings or host groups. The basis for emergence of pathogens has both a deep historical and a contemporary component. Anthropogenic factors, particularly translocation of hosts and parasites leading to introduction and establishment of exotic species continues as a determinant of emergence. This is linked to the concept that ownership of biodiversity and genetic resources also constitutes responsibility to control the introduction and dissemination of pathogenic organisms.

Last Modified: 4/22/2015