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The paradoxical survival of African Swine Fever by free-living wild boar

| October 18, 2023

Authors: N.W.G. Barmentlo, J. Ellers, T.J. Smyser, V. Brown, M. Bosse

Abstract: Due to the influences of climate change and globalization, epizootic diseases are becoming more prevalent. Climate change for instance influences host abundances while globalisation allows for increased host-hopping of pathogens. African Swine Fever (ASF) is one such epizootic disease that started to affect different continents in the previous and present century, with detrimental consequences for pig breeders and wild boar populations. It is hypothesised that this disease is so successful in new ranges in part due to the recent wild boar population increases, as a consequence of climate change, as well as the increased degradation time of carcasses due to the increased average body size. The current project aims to discover factors influencing susceptibility of wild boar to African Swine Fever in order to add to the list of environmental, genetic and physiological factors affecting epidemic occurrence. My goals are to assess the life-history drivers and evolutionary forces affecting wild boar immune function and be able to predict susceptibility to ASF of naïve populations. To accomplish this, I will use a combination of genomics, transcriptomics, environmental modelling, microbiome assessments, body conditional measuring and immunoassay-based tools to feed a predictive model. This data will be collected from wild boar in countries with and without ASF to generate baseline data for different countries in order to make comparisons. In the infected range, I will sample naïve and recovered boar to show disease progression and characteristics of survivors in natural systems. I expect to find that a strong baseline investment in inflammation responses is associated with survival as controlled infection experiments have already indicated this. Additionally, I expect to find populational differences in innate responses, in part, due to the strong life-history plasticity of wild boar. Here, I present the experimental outline incorporating state-of-the-art ecological immunology tools.

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Category: Animal Health Poster, Posters

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