Host recombination is dependent on the degree of parasitism

J. P. M. Camacho, M. Bakkali, J. M. Corral, J. Cabrero, M. D. López-León, I. Aranda, A. Martín-Alganza, F. Perfectti

Abstract

Parasites and hosts are involved in a continuous coevolutionary process leading to genetic changes in both counterparts. To understand this process, it is necessary to track host responses, one of which could be an increase in sex and recombination, such as is proposed by the Red Queen hypothesis. In this theoretical framework, the inducible recombination hypothesis states that B–chromosomes (genome parasites that prosper in natural populations of many living beings) elicit an increase in host chiasma frequency that is favoured by natural selection because it increases the proportion of recombinant progeny, some of which could be resistant to both B–chromosome effects and B–accumulation in the germline. We have found a clear parallelism between host recombination and the evolutionary status of the B–chromosome polymorphism, which provides explicit evidence for inducible recombination and strong support for the Red Queen hypothesis.