Modelling contact spread of infection in host-parasitoid systems: vertical transmission of pathogens can cause chaos

J Theor Biol. 2010 Feb 7;262(3):441-51. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2009.10.003. Epub 2009 Oct 25.


All animals and plants are, to some extent, susceptible to disease caused by varying combinations of parasites, viruses and bacteria. In this paper, we develop a mathematical model of contact spread infection to investigate the effect of introducing a parasitoid-vectored infection into a one-host-two-parasitoid competition model. We use a system of ordinary differential equations to investigate the separate influences of horizontal and vertical pathogen transmission on a model system appropriate for a variety of competitive situations. Computational simulations and steady-state analysis show that the transient and long-term dynamics exhibited under contact spread infection are highly complex. Horizontal pathogen transmission has a stabilising effect on the system whilst vertical transmission can destabilise it to the point of chaotic fluctuations in population levels. This has implications when considering the introduction of host pathogens for the control of insect vectored diseases such as bovine tuberculosis or yellow fever.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Host-Parasite Interactions*
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / veterinary*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Parasitic Diseases, Animal / transmission*