Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

It is a commonly held view that genetically homogenous host populations are more vulnerable to infection than genetically diverse populations. The underlying idea, known as the 'monoculture effect,' is well documented in agricultural studies. Low genetic diversity in the wild can result from bottlenecks (that is, founder effects), biparental inbreeding or self-fertilization, any of which might increase the risk of epidemics. Host genetic diversity could buffer populations against epidemics in nature, but it is not clear how much diversity is required to prevent disease spread. Recent theoretical and empirical studies, particularly in Daphnia populations, have helped to establish that genetic diversity can reduce parasite transmission. Here, we review the present theoretical work and empirical evidence, and we suggest a new focus on finding 'diversity thresholds.'

Original publication




Journal article


Heredity (Edinb)

Publication Date





199 - 203


Animals, Computer Simulation, Daphnia, Disease Transmission, Infectious, Founder Effect, Genetic Variation, Genetics, Population, Host-Pathogen Interactions, Humans, Inbreeding, Models, Genetic, Self-Fertilization