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Title: The effects of parasite diversity on eco-evolutionary dynamics
Author: Betts, Alexander
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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Virtually all interacting species (such as hosts and parasites) are embedded within diverse communities. However, evolutionary interactions are typically considered in a pairwise species framework. Although coevolutionary theory suggests that multiple species interactions may provide greater opportunities for diversification, the impacts of community diversity on coevolution have not been directly tested. In this thesis I synthesize the findings from recent experimental work to assess the effects of increased species diversity on the patterns and processes of host and parasite evolution. I then investigate the effects of parasite diversity on host-parasite population dynamics and evolution using the pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa and five lytic bacteriophage parasites in a brief evolution experiment. Parasite diversity was manipulated by assembling phage communities with different number of species. Phage communities suppressed host populations more rapidly but also showed reduced phage density, likely due to inter-phage competition. The evolution of resistance allowed rapid bacterial recovery that was greater in magnitude with increases in phage diversity. These results were then followed up via longer term experimental coevolution of the same host and parasite communities. Here the data showed that greater parasite diversity accelerates coevolutionary arms races and drives more diversification among lineages. Coevolution between hosts and parasite communities drove more successive increases in host resistance coupled with increasingly frequent selective sweeps at the genomic level. Consistent with this, the most rapidly evolving host genes under coevolution with parasite communities were those involved in various host resistance strategies. These results demonstrate, at phenotypic and genomic levels, how areas of high community diversity may be hotspots for rapid evolution in interacting, antagonistic species. Finally, In the face of escalating antibiotic resistance, there is now an urgent need to develop alternative antimicrobials, these results may be relevant to the application of phages as therapeutics and they are discussed in that context.
Supervisor: King, Kayla ; MacLean, Craig Sponsor: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Evolution (Biology) ; Phage Therapy ; Microbiology ; Host-Parasite Coevolution ; Community ; Phage ; Coevolution