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TWO-STEP INFECTION PROCESSES CAN LEAD TO COEVOLUTION BETWEEN FUNCTIONALLY INDEPENDENT INFECTION AND RESISTANCE PATHWAYS

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JournalEvolution: international journal of organic evolution
DatePublished - Jul 2012
Issue number7
Volume66
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)2030-2041
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

There is growing evidence that successful infection of hosts by pathogens requires a series of independent steps. However, how multistep infection processes affect hostpathogen coevolution is unclear. We present a coevolutionary model, inspired by empirical observations from a range of hostpathogen systems, where the infection process consists of the following two steps: the first is for the pathogen to recognize and locate a suitable host, and the second is to exploit the host while evading immunity. Importantly, these two steps conform to different models of infection genetics: inverse-gene-for-gene (IGFG) and gene-for-gene (GFG), respectively. We show that coevolution under this scenario can lead to coupled gene frequency changes across these two systems. In particular, selection often favors pathogens that are infective at the first, IGFG, step and hosts that are resistant at the second, GFG, step. Hence, there may be signals of positive selection between functionally independent systems whenever there are multistep processes determining resistance and infectivity. Such multistep infection processes are a fundamental, but overlooked feature of many hostpathogen interactions, and have important consequences for our understanding of hostpathogen coevolution.

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