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Host-parasite coevolution promotes innovation through deformations in fitness landscapes.

Abstract

. An analysis of the empirical fitness landscape revealed mutation-by-mutation-by-host-genotype interactions that demonstrate coevolution modified the contours of λ's landscape. Computer simulations of λ's evolution on a static versus shifting fitness landscape showed that the changes in contours increased λ's chances of evolving the ability to use a new host receptor. By coupling sequencing and pairwise competition experiments, we demonstrated that the first mutation λ evolved en route to the innovation would only evolve in the presence of the ancestral host, whereas later steps in λ's evolution required the shift to a resistant host. When time-shift replays of the coevolution experiment were run where host evolution was artificially accelerated, λ did not innovate to use the new receptor. This study provides direct evidence for the role of coevolution in driving evolutionary novelty and provides a quantitative framework for predicting evolution in coevolving ecological communities.

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