Evolutionary Genetics of Host Resistance to Parasites
Guiyun Yan Principal Investigator
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Parasites are an ubiquitous and important component of biological systems. Parasites affect host behavior, population dynamics, species interactions, and biodiversity. The effects of parasites on host ecology are often influenced by the magnitude of host susceptibility. Previous research has demonstrated that resistance to parasites is often a quantitative and genetically determined trait. However, little is known about the genetic basis and evolutionary constraints of resistance. This project will use molecular markers and gene mapping techniques to examine the evolutionary biology of parasite resistance. The association between a rat tapeworm parasite (Hymenolepis diminuta) and its intermediate host, the red flour beetles (Tribolium castaneum) will be used as a model system. Two questions will be addressed. (1) What are the genetic bases and inheritance of resistance to parasitism? (2) Are there any fitness costs associated with resistance? <br/><br/>The research is an important contribution to evolutionary biology because it examines the genetic basis of resistance and common assumptions made about the evolution of resistance. It will affect the way that we understand the evolution of host-parasite interactions, and may have practical implications to the control of human pathogens.