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Asymmetry in host and parasitoid diffuse coevolution: when the red queen has to keep a finger in more than one pie

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Author(s): Lapchin Laurent | Guillemaud Thomas

Journal: Frontiers in Zoology
ISSN 1742-9994

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 4;
Date: 2005;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Abstract Background Coevolution between pairs of antagonistic species is generally considered an endless "arms race" between attack and defense traits to counteract the adaptive responses of the other species. Presentation of the hypothesis When more than two species are involved, diffuse coevolution of hosts and parasitoids could be asymmetric because consumers can choose their prey whereas preys do not choose their predator. This asymmetry may lead to differences in the rate of evolution of the antagonistic species in response to selection. The more long-standing the coevolution of a given pair of antagonistic populations, the higher should be the fitness advantage for the consumer. Therefore, the main prediction of the hypothesis is that the consumer trophic level is more likely to win the coevolution race. Testing the hypothesis We propose testing the asymmetry hypothesis by focusing on the tritrophic system plant/aphid/aphid parasitoid. The analysis of the genetic variability in the virulence of several parasitoid populations and in the defenses of several aphid species or several clones of the same aphid species could be compared. Moreover, the analysis of the neutral population genetic structure of the parasitoid as a function of the aphid host, the plant host and geographic isolation may complement the detection of differences between host and parasitoid trophic specialization. Implications of the hypothesis Genetic structures induced by the arms race between antagonistic species may be disturbed by asymmetry in coevolution, producing neither rare genotype advantages nor coevolutionary hotspots. Thus this hypothesis profoundly changes our understanding of coevolution and may have important implications in terms of pest management.
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