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Journal Articles Evolution - International Journal of Organic Evolution Year : 2018

Hosts do not simply outsource pathogen resistance to protective symbionts


Microbial symbionts commonly protect their hosts from natural enemies, but it is unclear how protective symbionts influence the evolution of host immunity to pathogens. One possibility is that 'extrinsic' protection provided by symbionts allows hosts to reduce investment in 'intrinsic' immunological resistance mechanisms. We tested this idea using pea aphids (Acyrthosiphon pisum) and their facultative bacterial symbionts that increase host resistance to the fungal pathogen Pandora neoaphidis. The pea aphid taxon is composed of multiple host plant associated populations called biotypes, which harbour characteristic communities of symbionts. We found that biotypes that more frequently carry protective symbionts have higher, rather than lower, levels of intrinsic resistance. Within a biotype there was no difference in intrinsic resistance between clones that did and did not carry a protective symbiont. The host plant on which an aphid feeds did not strongly influence intrinsic resistance. We describe a simple conceptual model of the interaction between intrinsic and extrinsic resistance and suggest that our results may be explained by selection favouring both the acquisition of protective symbionts and enhanced intrinsic resistance in habitats with high pathogen pressure. Such combined protection is potentially more robust than intrinsic resistance alone. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Dates and versions

hal-01807367 , version 1 (04-06-2018)



Jan Hrček, Benjamin J Parker, Ailsa H C Mclean, Jean-Christophe Simon, Ciara M Mann, et al.. Hosts do not simply outsource pathogen resistance to protective symbionts. Evolution - International Journal of Organic Evolution, 2018, 72 (7), pp.1488-1499. ⟨10.1111/evo.13512⟩. ⟨hal-01807367⟩
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