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Evolution. 2006 Jan;60(1):24-30.

Parasite local adaptation in a geographic mosaic.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Idaho, Moscow 83844, USA.


A central prediction of the geographic mosaic theory of coevolution is that coevolving interspecific interactions will show varying degrees of local maladaptation. According to the theory, much of this local maladaptation is driven by selection mosaics and spatially intermingled coevolutionary hot and cold spots, rather than a simple balance between gene flow and selection. Here I develop a genetic model of host-parasite coevolution that is sufficiently general to incorporate selection mosaics, coevolutionary hot and cold spots, and a diverse array of genetic systems of infection/resistance. Results from this model show that the selection mosaics experienced by the interacting species are an important determinant of the sign and magnitude of local maladaptation. In some cases, this effect may be stronger than a previously described effect of relative rates of parasite and host gene flow. These results provide the first theoretical evidence that selection mosaics and coevolutionary hot and cold spots per se determine the magnitude and sign of local maladaptation. At the same time, however, these results demonstrate that coevolution in a geographic mosaic can lead to virtually any pattern of local adaptation or local maladaptation. Consequently, empirical studies that describe only patterns of local adaptation or maladaptation do not provide evidence either for or against the theory.

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