Context: The research carried out by the EVCO team primarily focuses on the ecological and evolutionary processes that underlie host-microbe interactions in communities.
By using different biological systems and combining various levels of biological complexity, we address a set of central questions:
- What are the evolutionary driving forces that influence host-microbe interactions, including the continuum between host-parasite and host-mutualist interactions?
- Does cooperation/competition between microbes determine the structure of intra-host microbial communities?
- Do these constraints involve genetic x genetic interactions and/or genetic x genetic x environment interactions?
- How does host-level adaptation of a parasite or vector impact the microbial community?
- How do external environmental stresses (resources, temperature, etc.) alter these interactions ?
The research developed by this team revolves around the process of (re)emergence of pathogens, a phenomenon made up of three key steps:
- Direct or indirect (vector) contact between the pathogen and the susceptible host,
- Pathogen adaptation to the host immune system and/or to any environmental factor (drugs, anthropogenic changes) that may affect its survival and reproduction, and
- Propagation/diffusion of the pathogen at the population and/or community level. To study these different steps, we use various host-pathogen models and modern scientific approaches, going from field to laboratory experiments and vice versa.
Our current research projects focus on the following questions:
- How do Plasmodium parasites adapt to new environments (species and populations)?
- Where, when, and by what means did the agents responsible for malaria colonise the world?
- How can we use haematophagous flies to monitor the epidemiological dynamics of pathogens (parasites, viruses, bacteria) circulating in wild animals?
- What are the contact/transmission rates between species, and how can we understand the sociological and ecological mechanisms of these interactions?
- How do pathogens diffuse among populations in space and time?
- What are the mechanisms behind the development of drug resistance in Plasmodium, and what are its epidemiological consequences?
It is increasingly understood that all types of cancer research can be viewed from the perspective of evolutionary ecology. While theories surrounding cancer initiation and progression are deeply rooted in the concepts of evolution and ecology, many promising opportunities for the application of evolutionary biology to carcinogenesis and oncology remain unexplored. Although cancer is a disease that affects most species of metazoans, its influence on the way ecosystems work is currently unknown. CREEC and its international extension (International Associated Laboratory on the Roles of Cancer in Ecology and Evolution) are open to all fields of research on cancer, and constitute a platform for exchanges and privileged collaborations between national and international specialists in a number of disciplines (mathematics, cell biology, evolutionary biology, and clinical research).
- To improve our understanding of the origin and evolution of cancer since the dawn of multicellularity and to determine how this disease interferes with the biotic interactions that govern ecosystems (competition, predation, parasitism).
- To understand the defenses developed by certain species of vertebrates to limit the initiation and progression of oncogenic processes.
- To apply evolutionary principles to help predict emergence and metastatic progression with the goal of improving therapies.
- To demonstrate to the medical community the relevance of these complementary studies with respect to more traditional approaches.