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Genetics. 2005 Apr;169(4):2127-35. Epub 2005 Jan 31.

Costly resistance to parasitism: evidence from simultaneous quantitative trait loci mapping for resistance and fitness in Tribolium castaneum.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, State University of New York at Buffalo, 14260, USA.


Information on the molecular basis of resistance and the evolution of resistance is crucial to an understanding of the appearance, spread, and distribution of resistance genes and of the mechanisms of host adaptation in natural populations. One potential important genetic constraint for the evolution of resistance is fitness cost associated with resistance. To determine whether host resistance to parasite infection is associated with fitness costs, we conducted simultaneous quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping of resistance to parasite infection and fitness traits using the red flour beetle (Tribolium castaneum) and the tapeworm parasite (Hymenolepis diminuta) system in two independent segregating populations. A genome-wide QTL scan using amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers revealed three QTL for beetle resistance to tapeworm infection. These three QTL account for 44-58% variance in beetle infection intensity. We identified five QTL for fecundity and five QTL for egg-to-adult viability, which accounted for 36-57% and 36-49%, respectively, of the phenotypic variance in fecundity and egg-to-adult viability. The three QTL conferring resistance were colocalized with the QTL affecting beetle fitness. The genome regions that contain the QTL for parasite resistance explained the majority of the variance in fecundity and egg-to-adult viability in the mapping populations. Colocalization of QTL conferring resistance to parasite infection and beetle fitness may result from the pleiotropic effects of the resistance genes on host fitness or from tight linkages between resistance genes and adverse deleterious mutations. Therefore, our results provide evidence that the genome regions conferring resistance to tapeworm infection are partially responsible for fitness costs in the resistant beetle populations.

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