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Diversity begets diversity: do parasites promote variation in protective symbionts?
- Hafer, Nina, Vorburger, Christoph
- Current opinion in insect science 2019 v.32 pp. 8-14
- alleles, allelic variation, hosts, immune system, insects, parasites, symbionts, vertebrates
- Insects commonly possess heritable microbial symbionts that increase their resistance to particular parasites. A diverse community of defensive symbionts may thus provide hosts with effective and specific protection against multiple parasites, although costs might constrain the accumulation of many symbionts. In parallel to the allelic diversity in the MHC complex of the vertebrate immune system, parasite diversity could be the driving force behind symbiont diversity. There is indeed evidence that parasites have the ability to drive frequencies of defensive symbionts in their hosts, and that these symbionts influence parasite communities, but direct evidence that parasite diversity can promote symbiont diversity is still lacking. We provide suggestions to investigate this potential link.