• coevolution;
  • cospeciation;
  • Drosophila;
  • mycophagy;
  • parasitism;
  • phylogeny


Little is known about what determines patterns of host association of horizontally transmitted parasites over evolutionary timescales. We examine the evolution of associations between mushroom-feeding Drosophila flies (Diptera: Drosophilidae), particularly in the quinaria and testacea species groups, and their horizontally transmitted Howardula nematode parasites (Tylenchida: Allantonematidae). Howardula species were identified by molecular characterization of nematodes collected from wild-caught flies. In addition, DNA sequence data is used to infer the phylogenetic relationships of both host Drosophila (mtDNA: COI, II, III) and their Howardula parasites (rDNA: 18S, ITS1; mtDNA: COI). Host and parasite phylogenies are not congruent, with patterns of host association resulting from frequent and sometimes rapid host colonizations. Drosophila-parasitic Howardula are not monophyletic, and host switches have occurred between Drosophila and distantly related mycophagous sphaerocerid flies. There is evidence for some phylogenetic association between parasites and hosts, with some nematode clades associated with certain host lineages. Overall, these host associations are highly dynamic, and appear to be driven by a combination of repeated opportunities for host colonization due to shared breeding sites and large potential host ranges of the nematodes.