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This commentary on the evolution of pathogens session just in from Elizabeth (Betsy) Uhl.


This interesting and important gem of a session started with a presentation by Joseph Graves about how E. coli bacteria like their bling – or rather how they do not like it, as his study found that it was harder for them to develop resistance to triangular versus spherical silver nanoparticles. The second study, presented by Katia Koelle, stressed the importance of acknowledging the ‘rubbish around the ruby’ as she modeled how antigenic variants together with deleterious mutations shape influenza’s hemagglutinin phylogeny. Models were also used to define criteria as to when aggressive versus containment therapy should be used to treat infections in a study presented by Elsa Hansen, and to indicate how cure and superinfection of cells facilitate rapid drug resistance in HCV infection in Ruian Ke’s study. Alison Feder studied how multiple haplotypes of drug resistant RT-SHIV emerged in different body compartments and found evidence that indicated selection and migration of the resistant viruses occurred on the same time scale. The session concluded with a study modeling whether specific immunity structures Plasmodium falciparum strains based upon the blood antigen PfEMP1, which was presented by Qixin He. Overall the session emphasized the power of modeling to characterize the evolution of a variety of pathogens.