• gene flow;
  • gene-for-gene;
  • geographic mosaic;
  • local adaptation;
  • metapopulation;
  • migration


Coevolving populations of hosts and parasites are often subdivided into a set of patches connected by dispersal. Higher relative rates of parasite compared with host dispersal are expected to lead to parasite local adaptation. However, we know of no studies that have considered the implications of higher relative rates of parasite dispersal for other aspects of the coevolutionary process, such as the rate of coevolution and extent of evolutionary escalation of resistance and infectivity traits. We investigated the effect of phage dispersal on coevolution in experimental metapopulations of the bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25 and its viral parasite, phage SBW25Φ2. Both the rate of coevolution and the breadth of evolved infectivity and resistance ranges peaked at intermediate rates of parasite dispersal. These results suggest that parasite dispersal can enhance the evolutionary potential of parasites through provision of novel genetic variation, but that high rates of parasite dispersal can impede the evolution of parasites by homogenizing genetic variation between patches, thereby constraining coevolution.