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Trends Ecol Evol. 2000 Sep;15(9):378-383.

Resistance to xenobiotics and parasites: can we count the cost?


The nature and cost of single genes of major effect is one of the longest running controversies in biology. Resistance, whether to xenobiotics or to parasites, is often paraded as an obvious example of a single gene effect that must carry an associated fitness 'cost'. However, a review of the xenobiotic resistance literature shows that empirical evidence for this hypothesis is, in fact, scarce. We postulate that such fitness costs can only be fully interpreted in the light of the molecular mutations that might underlie them. We also derive a theoretical framework both to encompass our current understanding of xenobiotic resistance and to begin to dissect the probable cost of parasite resistance.

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