Skip to main content

Data from: Rapid antagonistic coevolution in an emerging pathogen and its vertebrate host

Cite this dataset

Bonneaud, Camille et al. (2019). Data from: Rapid antagonistic coevolution in an emerging pathogen and its vertebrate host [Dataset]. Dryad.


Host-pathogen coevolution is assumed to play a key role in eco-evolutionary processes, including epidemiological dynamics and the evolution of sexual reproduction [1-4]. Despite this, direct evidence for host-pathogen coevolution is exceptional [5-7], particularly in vertebrate hosts. Indeed, although vertebrate hosts have been shown to evolve in response to pathogens or vice versa [8-12], there is little evidence for the necessary reciprocal changes in the success of both antagonists over time [13]. Here, we generate a time-shift experiment to demonstrate adaptive, reciprocal changes in North American house finches (Haemorhous mexicanus) and their bacterial pathogen, Mycoplasma gallisepticum [14-16]. Our experimental design is made possible by the existence of disease-exposed and unexposed finch populations, which were known to exhibit equivalent responses to experimental inoculation until the recent spread of genetic resistance in the former [14, 17]. While inoculation with pathogen isolates from epidemic outbreak caused comparable sub-lethal eye-swelling in hosts from exposed (hereafter adapted) and unexposed (hereafter ancestral) populations, inoculation with isolates sampled after the spread of resistance were threefold more likely to cause lethal symptoms in hosts from ancestral populations. Similarly, the probability that pathogens successfully established an infection in the primary host and, before inducing death, transmitted to an uninfected sentinel was highest when recent isolates were inoculated in hosts from ancestral populations and lowest when early isolates were inoculated in hosts from adapted populations. Our results demonstrate antagonistic host-pathogen coevolution, with hosts and pathogens displaying increased resistance and virulence in response to each other over time.

Usage notes


United States