Natural Selection and Infectious Disease in Human Populations

Nat Rev Genet. 2014 Jun;15(6):379-93. doi: 10.1038/nrg3734. Epub 2014 Apr 29.

Abstract

The ancient biological 'arms race' between microbial pathogens and humans has shaped genetic variation in modern populations, and this has important implications for the growing field of medical genomics. As humans migrated throughout the world, populations encountered distinct pathogens, and natural selection increased the prevalence of alleles that are advantageous in the new ecosystems in both host and pathogens. This ancient history now influences human infectious disease susceptibility and microbiome homeostasis, and contributes to common diseases that show geographical disparities, such as autoimmune and metabolic disorders. Using new high-throughput technologies, analytical methods and expanding public data resources, the investigation of natural selection is leading to new insights into the function and dysfunction of human biology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communicable Diseases, Emerging / epidemiology
  • Communicable Diseases, Emerging / genetics*
  • Communicable Diseases, Emerging / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Selection, Genetic*