Host genetic architecture in single and multiple infections


K. Mathias Wegner, Experimental Ecology, Institute of Integrative Biology, ETH Zürich Universitätstrasse 16, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland.
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Hosts are often target to multiple simultaneous infections by genetically diverse parasite strains. The interaction among these strains and the interaction of each strain with the host was shown to have profound effects on the evolution of parasite traits. Host factors like genetic architecture of resistance have so far been largely neglected. To see whether genetic architecture differs between different kinds of infections we used joint scaling analysis to compare the genetic components of resistance in the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum exposed to single and multiple strains of the microsporidian Nosema whitei. Our results indicate that additive, dominance and epistatic components were more important in single infections whereas maternal components play a decisive role in multiple infections. In detail, parameter estimates of additive, dominance and epistatic components correlated positively between single and multiple infections, whereas maternal components correlated negatively. These findings may suggest that specificity of host–parasite interactions are mediated by genetic and especially epistatic components whereas maternal effects constitute a more general form of resistance.