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Keywords:

  • antibiotic resistance;
  • drug resistance;
  • malaria;
  • Plasmodium

Abstract

Evolutionary biologists have largely left the search for solutions to the drug resistance crisis to biomedical scientists, physicians, veterinarians and public health specialists. We believe this is because the vast majority of professional evolutionary biologists consider the evolutionary science of drug resistance to be conceptually uninteresting. Using malaria as case study, we argue that it is not. We review examples of evolutionary thinking that challenge various fallacies dominating antimalarial therapy, and discuss open problems that need evolutionary insight. These problems are unlikely to be resolved by biomedical scientists ungrounded in evolutionary biology. Involvement by evolutionary biologists in the science of drug resistance requires no intellectual compromises: the problems are as conceptually challenging as they are important.