Host-parasite coevolution: genetic variation in a virus population and the interaction with a host gene

Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Lena Wilfert, Francis M Jiggins


Host-parasite coevolution is considered to be an important factor in maintaining genetic variation in resistance to pathogens. Drosophila melanogaster is naturally infected by the sigma virus, a vertically transmitted and host-specific pathogen. In fly populations, there is a large amount of genetic variation in the transmission rate from parent to offspring, much of which is caused by major-effect resistance polymorphisms. We have found that there are similarly high levels of genetic variation in the rate of paternal transmission among 95 different isolates of the virus as in the host. However, when we examined a transmission-blocking gene in the host, we found that it was effective across virus isolates. Therefore, the high levels of genetic variation observed in this system do not appear to be maintained because of coevolution resulting from interactions between this host gene and parasite genes.


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