Ali_PepperI am a CNRS researcher based at the University of Montpellier. My work looks mostly at the evolutionary ecology of host-parasite interactions across a variety of model systems. At the moment my favourite pet species is the spider mite Tetranychus urticae, and occasionally its cousin T. evansi.

Coinfection and parasite evolution

Coinfection can have very different consequences for parasite evolution compared to single infections. A current project is looking at parasite evolution in coinfections, comprising different spider mite species and plant viruses, on tomato host plants. The interactions between these different parasite species in the within-host environment are either competitive or facilitative, which may have different consequences for parasite virulence and transmission evolution. At the moment we are using iso-genic lines and selection experiments to look at the relationships between competition, virulence and transmission.

Another related project has been looking at how the scale of competition and type of dispersal impacts the evolution of sex allocation, sexual conflict and virulence.

A lot of the above work is being done in collaboration with Sara Magalhães at the University of Lisbon.

Spider mites and viruses

A project with Mylène Ogliastro is characterising viruses in the spider mites T. urticae and T. evansi. This project has identified a number of novel viral species including a densovirus named T. urticae-associated ambidensovirus. We are currently describing the ecology of this virus (transmission mode, prevalence) and its structure.

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