Close

Connecting functional and statistical definitions of genotype by genotype interactions in coevolutionary studies.

Abstract

Predicting how species interactions evolve requires that we understand the mechanistic basis of coevolution, and thus the functional genotype-by-genotype interactions (G × G) that drive reciprocal natural selection. Theory on host-parasite coevolution provides testable hypotheses for empiricists, but depends upon models of functional G × G that remain loosely tethered to the molecular details of any particular system. In practice, reciprocal cross-infection studies are often used to partition the variation in infection or fitness in a population that is attributable to G × G (statistical G × G). Here we use simulations to demonstrate that within-population statistical G × G likely tells us little about the existence of coevolution, its strength, or the genetic basis of functional G × G. Combined with studies of multiple populations or points in time, mapping and molecular techniques can bridge the gap between natural variation and mechanistic models of coevolution, while model-based statistics can formally confront coevolutionary models with cross-infection data. Together these approaches provide a robust framework for inferring the infection genetics underlying statistical G × G, helping unravel the genetic basis of coevolution.

MIDAS Network Members

Citation: