Sexual reproduction and meiotic recombination generate new genetic combinations and may thereby help an individual infected by a parasite to protect its offspring from being infected. While this idea is often used to understand the evolutionary forces underlying the maintenance of sex and recombination, it also suggests that infected individuals should increase plastically their rate of recombination. We tested the latter idea with the mosquito Aedes aegypti and asked whether females infected by the microsporidian Vavraia culicis were more likely to have recombinant offspring than uninfected females. To measure the rate of recombination over a chromosome we analysed combinations of microsatellites on chromosome 3 in infected and uninfected females, in the (uninfected) males they copulated with and in their offspring. As predicted, the infected females were more likely to have recombinant offspring than the uninfected ones. These results show the ability of a female to diversify her offspring in response to parasitic infection by plastically increasing her recombination rate.
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- Raw data microsatellites