The editorial board of the scientific journal GENETICS has awarded the 2021 Editors’ Choice Award for an outstanding Quantitative Genetics article to Dries Hulst. He receives this award for the manuscript “Why genetic selection to reduce the prevalence of infectious diseases is way more promising than currently believed”.
Hulst is a joint PhD-student of the Quantitative Veterinary Epidemiology and Animal Breeding and Genomics chair groups at Wageningen University & Research.
Summary of the article
Quantitative genetic analyses of binary disease status indicate low heritability for most infectious diseases. This suggests that the potential response to selection in disease prevalence is limited. By integration of quantitative genetics with epidemiological models, researchers Hulst, de Jong, and Bijma show that the typical low heritability values of disease status correspond to a substantial genetic variation in disease susceptibility and to a large potential response to selection. Positive feedback mechanisms occurring in disease transmission are crucial for this response and even make eradication of infectious diseases possible. However, current quantitative genetic models ignore these feedback effects and thereby underestimate response to selection in disease prevalence.