Much of our understanding of host and parasite evolution is based on theoretical and empirical work on two-species systems. But in reality hosts and parasites exist in complex communities interacting with a wider range of other species. How do these interactions affect how hosts and parasites (co)evolve?
- We have shown how microbes can evolve along the parasitism mutualism continuum to provide context dependent protection against other parasites, in a “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” scenario (see Ben’s article in The Conversation about this phenomenon).
- Working with Kayla King at the University of Oxford, we have shown both theoretically and experimentally (using the nematode C. elegans and two bacterial species) how the host can coevolve with a protective microbe to form a mutualistic relationship.