Cancer is a disease that affects most metazoan species. Prior to directly causing host death, cancer is likely to influence the competitive abilities of individuals, their susceptibility to pathogens, their vulnerability to predators, and their ability to disperse. Despite the potential importance of these ecological impacts, cancer is rarely incorporated into ecosystem models. The aim of this research project is to understand the diverse ways in which oncogenic phenomena—from precancerous lesions to generalized metastatic cancers—may affect ecological processes that govern biotic interactions.
This project will especially explore whether oncogenic phenomena—despite their diversity and complexity—can have similar and predictable ecological consequences. This novel research topic has been recently proposed in a perspectives paper* by CREEC scientists in Trends in Ecology and Evolution.
*Vittecoq M, Roche B, Daoust SP, Ducasse H, Missé D, Abadie J, Labrut S, Renaud F, Gauthier-Clerc M & Thomas F (2013) Cancer: a missing link in ecosystem functioning? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 28:628-35.
Picture: The missing link, Frédéric Thomas.