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Int J Parasitol. 2003 Feb;33(2):137-44.

Parasite infectivity to hybridising host species: a link between hybrid resistance and allopolyploid speciation?

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  • 1School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8 1UG, UK. joejackson67@hotmail.com


Variation in host-specific infectivity was studied in monogenean polystome parasites (Protopolystoma spp.) of the interfertile, parapatric anurans Xenopus laevis laevis and Xenopus muelleri. Laboratory-raised host F1 hybrids were resistant to parasites respectively specific to each parent taxon in nature. This resistance occurred against parasite isolates from both inside and outside a host hybrid/sympatric zone (and no isolate was compatible with the foreign host species under experimental conditions). Geographical Protopolystoma xenopodis isolates showed variable infectivity to a single full-sib group of their usual host, X. l. laevis, and strains with high or low infectivity to these sibs co-occurred in spatially distant local areas (separated by 1,700 km). The host compatibility of P. xenopodis was also subject to host genotypexparasite genotype interactions. Refractoriness to some parasites or pathogens, as a consequence of hybridisation, may have conferred a selective advantage on the allopolyploid pathway by which most Xenopus spp. are believed to have evolved.

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