Host-parasite coevolution is often suggested as a mechanism for maintaining genetic diversity, but finding direct evidence has proven difficult. In the present study, we examine the process of coevolution using a freshwater New Zealand snail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum) and its common parasite (the sterilizing trematode, Microphallus sp.) Specifically, we test for changes in genotypic composition of clonal host populations in experimental populations evolving either with or without parasites for six generations. As predicted under the Red Queen model of coevolution, the initially most common host genotype decreased in frequency in the presence, but not the absence, of parasitism. Furthermore, the initially most common host genotype became more susceptible to infection by the coevolving parasite populations over the course of the experiment. These results are consistent with parasitemeditated selection leading to a rare advantage, and they indicate rapid coevolution at the genotypic level between a host and its parasite.
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Vol. 63 • No. 9