CRC 1182 Talk – Dr. Fabian Leendertz (Robert Koch Institut, Berlin) – 27.11.2017
Biological Colloquium at the Biology Center of the Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel
Monday, 27th November 2017, 16:15 pm
Lecture hall E 60 of the Biology Center
Am Botanischen Garten 5
Great Apes as sources and sentinels for emerging diseases
Zoonotic pathogens account for a large proportion of emerging infectious diseases and pose a serious threat to global human health. Despite their importance, identification of novel pathogens of relevance to human health before major outbreaks occur remains a challenge. Sub-Saharan Africa bears a disproportionally high burden of morbidity and mortality caused by infectious diseases and has been pinpointed as a major source of novel pathogens. This is thought to be due in large part to high levels of bushmeat hunting and a high burden of immunosuppressive diseases in the region. In addition, the close evolutionary relationship and similar physiology of humans and a high diversity of non-human primates, especially the great apes, present in the area result in a high potential for microorganism exchange. Studies of the microorganisms of wild great apes allow for the discovery of novel pathogens of importance for human health, with great apes ultimately serving as sentinels for outbreaks. In addition, studies of wild great ape health can inform conservation initiatives for extremely threatened populations. Lastly, such studies will inform our understanding our own health by providing an evolutionary perspective for our species’ origins and insights into the microbial context in which we evolved.