Temperature checks the Red Queen? Resistance and virulence in a fluctuating environment

Authors


Correspondence: E-mail: m.thomas@ic.ac.uk

Abstract

Numerous studies have revealed genetic variation in resistance and susceptibility in host–parasite interactions and therefore the potential for frequency-dependent selection (Red Queen dynamics). Few studies, if any, have considered the abiotic environment as a mediating factor in these interactions. Using the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum, and its fungal pathogen, Erynia neoaphidis, as a model host–parasite system, we demonstrate how temperature can mediate the expression of genotypic variation for susceptibility and virulence. Whilst previous studies have revealed among-clone variation in aphid resistance to this pathogen, we show that resistance rankings derived from assessments at one temperature, are not conserved across differing temperature regimes. We suggest that variation in environmental temperature, through its nonlinear impact on parasite virulence and host defence, may contribute to the general lack of evidence for frequency-dependent selection in field systems.

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