Host Adaptation Is Contingent upon the Infection Route Taken by Pathogens

Nelson E. Martins, Vitor G. Faria, Luis Teixeira, Sara Magalhães*, Élio Sucena

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


Evolution of pathogen virulence is affected by the route of infection. Also, alternate infection routes trigger different physiological responses on hosts, impinging on host adaptation and on its interaction with pathogens. Yet, how route of infection may shape adaptation to pathogens has not received much attention at the experimental level. We addressed this question through the experimental evolution of an outbred Drosophila melanogaster population infected by two different routes (oral and systemic) with Pseudomonas entomophila. The two selection regimes led to markedly different evolutionary trajectories. Adaptation to infection through one route did not protect from infection through the alternate route, indicating distinct genetic bases. Finally, relatively to the control population, evolved flies were not more resistant to bacteria other than Pseudomonas and showed higher susceptibility to viral infections. These specificities and trade-offs may contribute to the maintenance of genetic variation for resistance in natural populations. Our data shows that the infection route affects host adaptation and thus, must be considered in studies of host-pathogen interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1003601
JournalPLoS Pathogens
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013
Externally publishedYes


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