Microbial Ecology and Evolution Are Essential for Understanding Pandemics

This article was originally published here

mBio. 2021 Sep 28:e0214421. doi: 10.1128/mBio.02144-21. Online ahead of print.


Ecology and evolution, especially of microbes, have never been more relevant than in our global fight against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Understanding how populations of SARS-CoV-2 grow, disperse, and evolve is of critical importance to managing the COVID-19 pandemic, and these questions are fundamentally ecological and evolutionary in nature. We compiled data from bioRxiv and medRxiv preprint abstracts and US National Institutes of Health Research Project grant abstracts to visualize the impact that the pivot to COVID-19 research has had on the study of microbes across biological disciplines. Finding that the pivot appears weaker in ecology and evolutionary biology than in other areas of biology, we discuss why the ecology and evolution of microbes, both pathogenic and otherwise, need renewed attention and investment going forward.

PMID:34579579 | DOI:10.1128/mBio.02144-21