Negative frequency-dependent selection (NFDS) is an evolutionary mechanism suggested to govern host-parasite coevolution and the maintenance of genetic diversity at host resistance loci, such as the vertebrate MHC and R-genes in plants. Matching-allele interactions of hosts and parasites that prevent the emergence of host and parasite genotypes that are universally resistant and infective are a genetic mechanism predicted to underpin NFDS. The underlying genetics of matching-allele interactions are unknown even in host-parasite systems with empirical support for coevolution by NFDS, as is the case for the planktonic crustacean Daphnia magna and the bacterial pathogen Pasteuria ramosa. We fine-map one locus associated with D. magna resistance to P. ramosa and genetically characterize two haplotypes of the Pasteuria resistance (PR-) locus using de novo genome and transcriptome sequencing. Sequence comparison of PR-locus haplotypes finds dramatic structural polymorphisms between PR-locus haplotypes including a large portion of each haplotype being composed of non-homologous sequences resulting in haplotypes differing in size by 66 kb. The high divergence of PR-locus haplotypes suggest a history of multiple, diverse and repeated instances of structural mutation events and restricted recombination. Annotation of the haplotypes reveals striking differences in gene content. In particular, a group of glycosyltransferase genes that is present in the susceptible but absent in the resistant haplotype. Moreover, in natural populations, we find that the PR-locus polymorphism is associated with variation in resistance to different P. ramosa genotypes, pointing to the PR-locus polymorphism as being responsible for the matching-allele interactions that have been previously described for this system. Our results conclusively identify a genetic basis for the matching-allele interaction observed in a coevolving host-parasite system and provide a first insight into its molecular basis.
Journal: PLoS genetics