Document Type

Article

Original Publication Date

2015

Journal/Book/Conference Title

PLOS One

Volume

10

Issue

10

DOI of Original Publication

10.1371/journal.pone.0139225

Comments

Originally published at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0139225

Date of Submission

November 2015

Abstract

Despite the fact that parasites are highly specialized with respect to their hosts, empirical evidence demonstrates that host switching rather than co-speciation is the dominant factor influencing the diversification of host-parasite associations. Ecological fitting in sloppy fitness space has been proposed as a mechanism allowing ecological specialists to host-switch readily. That proposal is tested herein using an individual-based model of host switching. The model considers a parasite species exposed to multiple host resources. Through time host range expansion can occur readily without the prior evolution of novel genetic capacities. It also produces non-linear variation in the size of the fitness space. The capacity for host colonization is strongly influenced by propagule pressure early in the process and by the size of the fitness space later. The simulations suggest that co-adaptation may be initiated by the temporary loss of less fit phenotypes. Further, parasites can persist for extended periods in sub-optimal hosts, and thus may colonize distantly related hosts by a "stepping-stone" process.

Rights

This is an open access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication

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