These authors shared first authorship.
Host–parasite genotypic interactions in the honey bee: the dynamics of diversity
Article first published online: 6 JUN 2013
© 2013 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Ecology and Evolution
Volume 3, Issue 7, pages 2214–2222, July 2013
How to Cite
Ecology and Evolution 2013; 3(7): 2214–2222
- Issue published online: 10 JUL 2013
- Article first published online: 6 JUN 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 9 APR 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 4 APR 2013
- Manuscript Received: 21 FEB 2013
- Natural Environment Research Council
- Apis mellifera ;
- Ascosphaera apis ;
- Aspergillus flavus ;
- disease resistance;
- genetic diversity;
- social insect
Parasites are thought to be a major driving force shaping genetic variation in their host, and are suggested to be a significant reason for the maintenance of sexual reproduction. A leading hypothesis for the occurrence of multiple mating (polyandry) in social insects is that the genetic diversity generated within-colonies through this behavior promotes disease resistance. This benefit is likely to be particularly significant when colonies are exposed to multiple species and strains of parasites, but host–parasite genotypic interactions in social insects are little known. We investigated this using honey bees, which are naturally polyandrous and consequently produce genetically diverse colonies containing multiple genotypes (patrilines), and which are also known to host multiple strains of various parasite species. We found that host genotypes differed significantly in their resistance to different strains of the obligate fungal parasite that causes chalkbrood disease, while genotypic variation in resistance to the facultative fungal parasite that causes stonebrood disease was less pronounced. Our results show that genetic variation in disease resistance depends in part on the parasite genotype, as well as species, with the latter most likely relating to differences in parasite life history and host–parasite coevolution. Our results suggest that the selection pressure from genetically diverse parasites might be an important driving force in the evolution of polyandry, a mechanism that generates significant genetic diversity in social insects.