Multi-mode fluctuating selection in host-parasite coevolution

Ben Ashby, Mike Boots

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29 Citations (SciVal)
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Understanding fluctuating selection is important for our understanding of patterns of spatial and temporal diversity in nature. Host-parasite theory has classically assumed fluctuations either occur between highly specific genotypes (Matching Alleles: MA) or from specialism to generalism (Gene-for-Gene: GFG). However, while MA can only generate one mode of fluctuating selection, we show that GFG can in fact produce both rapid “within-range” fluctuations (among genotypes with identical levels of investment but which specialise on different subsets of the population) and slower cycling “between ranges” (different levels of investment), emphasising that MA is a subset of GFG. Our findings closely match empirical observations, although sampling rates need to be high to detect these novel dynamics empirically. Within-range cycling is an overlooked process by which fluctuating selection can occur in nature, suggesting that fluctuating selection may be a more common and important process than previously thought in generating and maintaining diversity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-365
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number3
Early online date29 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


  • host-parasite systems
  • coevolution
  • fluctuating selection
  • infection genetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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