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Structure of the scientific community modelling the evolution of resistance

Abstract : Faced with the recurrent evolution of resistance to pesticides and drugs, the scientific community has developed theoretical models aimed at identifying the main factors of this evolution and predicting the efficiency of resistance management strategies. The evolutionary forces considered by these models are generally similar for viruses, bacteria, fungi, plants or arthropods facing drugs or pesticides, so interaction between scientists working on different biological organisms would be expected. We tested this by analysing co-authorship and co-citation networks using a database of 187 articles published from 1977 to 2006 concerning models of resistance evolution to all major classes of pesticides and drugs. These analyses identified two main groups. One group, led by ecologists or agronomists, is interested in agricultural crop or stock pests and diseases. It mainly uses a population genetics approach to model the evolution of resistance to insecticidal proteins, insecticides, herbicides, antihelminthic drugs and miticides. By contrast, the other group, led by medical scientists, is interested in human parasites and mostly uses epidemiological models to study the evolution of resistance to antibiotic and antiviral drugs. Our analyses suggested that there is also a small scientific group focusing on resistance to antimalaria drugs, and which is only poorly connected with the two larger groups. The analysis of cited references indicates that each of the two large communities publishes its research in a different set of literature and has its own keystone references: citations with a large impact in one group are almost never cited by the other. We fear the lack of exchange between the two communities might slow progress concerning resistance evolution which is currently a major issue for society.
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Denis Bourguet, François Delmotte, Pierre Franck, Thomas Guillemaud, Xavier Reboud, et al.. Structure of the scientific community modelling the evolution of resistance. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2007, 2 (12), pp.e1275. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0001275⟩. ⟨hal-02656910⟩



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