Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Scientists revealed today that a prolific parasite is helping shape the destiny of a species it does not even infect. The complex relationship between the parasite, its host, and the unconnected species is the first known example of evolutionary pressure from such a remote source.
Five years ago, University of Rochester scientists linked the bacterial parasite, Wolbachia, to the separation of a single wasp species into two distinct species. Now, researchers have found that this same parasite in fruit flies is not only meddling with the sexual behavior of its host, but may be causing a change in the sexual behavior of a species that is not infected.
"Darwin's model of evolution is based on genetic variation that causes differences in survival and reproduction," says John Jaenike (homepage), professor of biology. "However, this apparently simple scheme can operate in very complex and indirect ways." [Science, Behaviour, Fly]
Based on the open access PLoS Biology paper "Asymmetrical Reinforcement and Wolbachia Infection in Drosophila"
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