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Crozier's paradox suggests that genetic kin recognition will not be evolutionarily stable. The problem is that more common tags (markers) are more likely to be recognized and helped. This causes common tags to increase in frequency, eliminating the genetic variability that is required for genetic kin recognition. Two potential solutions to this problem have been suggested: host-parasite coevolution and multiple social encounters. We show that the host-parasite coevolution hypothesis does not work as commonly assumed. Host-parasite coevolution only stabilizes kin recognition at a parasite resistance locus if parasites adapt rapidly to hosts and cause intermediate or high levels of damage (virulence). Additionally, when kin recognition is stabilized at a parasite resistance locus, this can have an additional cost of making hosts more susceptible to parasites. However, we show that if the genetic architecture is allowed to evolve, meaning natural selection can choose the recognition locus, genetic kin recognition is more likely to be stable. The reason for this is that host-parasite coevolution can maintain tag diversity at another (neutral) locus by genetic hitchhiking, allowing that other locus to be used for genetic kin recognition. These results suggest a way that host-parasite coevolution can resolve Crozier's paradox, without making hosts more susceptible to parasites. However, the opportunity for multiple social encounters may provide a more robust resolution of Crozier's paradox.

Original publication




Journal article


Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Publication Date





Hamilton’s Rule, evolution of altruism, genetic kin recognition, host–parasite coevolution, kin discrimination, Animals, Parasites, Selection, Genetic, Adaptation, Physiological, Virulence, Host-Parasite Interactions, Biological Evolution