Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Host-parasite species pairs are known to coevolve, but how multiple parasites coevolve with their host is unclear. By using experimental coevolution of a host bacterium and its viral parasites, we revealed that diverse parasite communities accelerated host evolution and altered coevolutionary dynamics to enhance host resistance and decrease parasite infectivity. Increases in parasite diversity drove shifts in the mode of selection from fluctuating (Red Queen) dynamics to predominately directional (arms race) dynamics. Arms race dynamics were characterized by selective sweeps of generalist resistance mutations in the genes for the host bacterium's cell surface lipopolysaccharide (a bacteriophage receptor), which caused faster molecular evolution within host populations and greater genetic divergence among populations. These results indicate that exposure to multiple parasites influences the rate and type of host-parasite coevolution.

Original publication




Journal article






907 - 911