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Heredity (Edinb). 2003 Jan;90(1):84-9.

Genetic dimension of the coevolution of virulence-resistance in Drosophila -- parasitoid wasp relationships.

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Laboratoire Populations, Génétique et Evolution, CNRS 91198, Gif-sur-Yvette, France.


Variations observed in parasite virulence and host resistance may be the outcome of coevolutionary processes. Recent theoretical developments have led to a 'geographic mosaic theory' of coevolution according to which there are some localities where reciprocal selection occurs (hot spots) and others where it is strongly reduced (cold spots). Studies of host-parasitoid systems back this up, revealing a geographical variation of traits subjected to antagonistic selection governed by variations in the strength of the ecological interactions. A more detailed analysis of the genetic basis of these geographic variations in a model system -- the interaction between Drosophila melanogaster and its specific parasitoid Leptopilina boulardi -- suggests that cold spots and hot spots are also driven by the amount of genetic variation available for the trait considered. Our approach, based on isolating reference strains, has been found to predict the result of sympatric interactions and it will be helpful in identifying the selective forces responsible for the coevolution. In this model, host resistance to a standardised reference strain is a weak predictor of the outcome of interactions in the field, and the main parameter accounting for the geographic variations is the number of host species available, with less parasitoid virulence towards D. melanogaster being found in areas displaying a more diversified host community.

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