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Gene flow and adaptive potential in a generalist ectoparasite

Abstract : Background: In host-parasite systems, relative dispersal rates condition genetic novelty within populations and thus their adaptive potential. Knowledge of host and parasite dispersal rates can therefore help us to understand current interaction patterns in wild populations and why these patterns shift over time and space. For generalist parasites however, estimates of dispersal rates depend on both host range and the considered spatial scale. Here, we assess the relative contribution of these factors by studying the population genetic structure of a common avian ectoparasite, the hen flea Ceratophyllus gallinae, exploiting two hosts that are sympatric in our study population, the great tit Parus major and the collared flycatcher Ficedula albicollis. Previous experimental studies have indicated that the hen flea is both locally maladapted to great tit populations and composed of subpopulations specialized on the two host species, suggesting limited parasite dispersal in space and among hosts, and a potential interaction between these two structuring factors. Results: C. gallinae fleas were sampled from old nests of the two passerine species in three replicate wood patches and were genotyped at microsatellite markers to assess population genetic structure at different scales (among individuals within a nest, among nests and between host species within a patch and among patches). As expected, significant structure was found at all spatial scales and between host species, supporting the hypothesis of limited dispersal in this parasite. Clustering analyses and estimates of relatedness further suggested that inbreeding regularly occurs within nests. Patterns of isolation by distance within wood patches indicated that flea dispersal likely occurs in a stepwise manneramong neighboring nests. From these data, we estimated that gene flow in the hen flea is approximately half that previously described for its great tit hosts.Conclusion: Our results fall in line with predictions based on observed patterns of adaptation in this host-parasite system, suggesting that parasite dispersal is limited and impacts its adaptive potential with respect to its hosts. More generally, this study sheds light on the complex interaction between parasite gene flow, local adaptation and host specialization within a single host-parasite system.
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Dernière modification le : dimanche 22 novembre 2020 - 18:56:05
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Anais Appelgren, Verena Saladin, Heinz Richner, Blandine Doligez, Karen Mccoy. Gene flow and adaptive potential in a generalist ectoparasite. BMC Evolutionary Biology, BioMed Central, 2018, 18, pp.99. ⟨10.1186/s12862-018-1205-2⟩. ⟨hal-01847867⟩

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