Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Running with the Red Queen: Host-Parasite Coevolution Selects for Biparental Sex

Most organisms reproduce through outcrossing, even though it comes with substantial costs. The Red Queen hypothesis proposes that selection from coevolving pathogens facilitates the persistence of outcrossing despite these costs. We used experimental coevolution to test the Red Queen hypothesis and found that coevolution with a bacterial pathogen (Serratia marcescens) resulted in significantly more outcrossing in mixed mating experimental populations of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Furthermore, we found that coevolution with the pathogen rapidly drove obligately selfing populations to extinction, whereas outcrossing populations persisted through reciprocal coevolution. Thus, consistent with the Red Queen hypothesis, coevolving pathogens can select for biparental sex.
Running with the Red Queen: Host-Parasite Coevolution Selects for Biparental Sex

yeah. these ingenious experimentalists crippled first the worms with a hefty dose of mutagens so that the selfers became immediately homozygous for all kind of nasty mutations (while the sexuals purged the mutations through segregation). then the bacteria had a great time trashing the crippled selfers that for sure started with compromised innate immunity (etc!), but had a much harder time with the outcrossers since these started with strong wildtype innate immunity (etc!). chapeau to the authors though, since i too would do anything to get published (and avoid perishing)! and congrats to the hyper-expert reviewers ! ;)
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