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Hidden paths to endless forms most wonderful: Parasite-blind diversification of host quality


Freund, Lisa; Vasse, Marie; Velicer, Gregory J. (2021), Hidden paths to endless forms most wonderful: Parasite-blind diversification of host quality, Dryad, Dataset,


Evolutionary diversification can occur in allopatry or sympatry, can be driven by selection or unselected, and can be phenotypically manifested immediately or remain latent until realised in a newly encountered environment. Diversification of host-parasite interactions is frequently studied in the context of intrinsically selective coevolution, but the potential for host-parasite interaction phenotypes to diversify latently during parasite-blind host evolution is rarely considered. Here we use a social bacterium experimentally adapted to several environments in the absence of phage to analyse allopatric diversification of host quality - the degree to which a host population supports a viral epidemic. Phage-blind evolution reduced host quality overall, with some bacteria becoming completely resistant to growth suppression by phage. Selective-environment differences generated only mild divergence in host-quality. However, selective environments nonetheless played a major role in shaping evolution by determining the degree of stochastic diversification among replicate populations within treatments. Ancestral motility genotype was also found to strongly shape patterns of latent host-quality evolution and diversification. These outcomes show that i) adaptive landscapes can differ in how they constrain stochastic diversification of a latent phenotype and ii) major effects of selection on biological diversification can be missed by focusing on trait means. Collectively, our findings suggest that latent-phenotype evolution (LPE) should inform host-parasite evolution theory and that diversification should be conceived broadly to include latent phenotypes.