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Evolution of Incompatibility-Inducing Microbes and Their Hosts

Michael Turelli
Evolution
Vol. 48, No. 5 (Oct., 1994), pp. 1500-1513
DOI: 10.2307/2410244
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2410244
Page Count: 14
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Evolution of Incompatibility-Inducing Microbes and Their Hosts
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Abstract

In many insect species, males infected with microbes related to Wolbachia pipientis are "incompatible" with uninfected females. Crosses between infected males and uninfected females produce significantly fewer adult progeny than the other three possible crosses. The incompatibility-inducing microbes are usually maternally transmitted. Thus, incompatibility tends to confer a reproductive advantage on infected females in polymorphic populations, allowing these infections to spread. This paper analyzes selection on parasite and host genes that affect such incompatibility systems. Selection among parasite variants does not act directly on the level of incompatibility with uninfected females. In fact, selection favors rare parasite variants that increase the production of infected progeny by infected mothers, even if these variants reduce incompatibility with uninfected females. However, productivity-reducing parasites that cause partial incompatibility with hosts harboring alternative variants can be favored once they become sufficiently abundant locally. Thus, they may spread spatially by a process analogous to the spread of underdominant chromosome rearrangements. The dynamics of modifier alleles in the host are more difficult to predict, because such alleles will occur in both infected and uninfected individuals. Nevertheless, the relative fecundity of infected females compared to uninfected females, the efficiency of maternal transmission and the mutual compatibility of infected individuals all tend to increase under within-population selection on both host and parasite genes. In addition, selection on host genes favors increased compatibility between infected males and uninfected females. Although vertical transmission tends to harmonize host and parasite evolution, competition among parasite variants will tend to maintain incompatibility.

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