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Community genetic interactions mediate indirect ecological effects between a parasitoid wasp and rhizobacteria

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Catherine T├ętard-Jones



Indirect ecological effects (IEEs) clearly influence species dynamics and abundance, yet relatively little is known about how they influence the evolution of species involved. While genetic variation in the species causing and responding to the IEE has obvious effects, the influence of genetic variation in intermediate species remains unexamined. Given the often counterintuitive responses of populations to IEEs this seems a significant omission. Following a community genetics approach, we used a model tetra-trophic system (parasitoid wasp, aphid, barley and rhizobacteria) to investigate the effect of genetic interactions within the two linking species (aphids and barley) on the IEE of rhizobacteria on wasps. We show that 12.4% of the variation in wasp size, a proxy for fitness, is explained by higher-order interactions between aphid genotype, barley genotype and presence or absence of rhizobacteria (GenotypeBarleyxGenotypeAphidxEnvironmentRhizobacteria). Thus, the IEE of rhizobacteria on the parasitoid wasp is influenced by the specific combination of aphid and barley genotypes that mediate the interactions. In some cases changes in the genotypes of the intermediate species completely reverses the effect of rhizobacteria on wasp size. Our work demonstrates that within-species genetic variation is important in shaping IEEs in communities, an essential component of community evolutionary processes.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Zytynska SE, Fleming S, Tetard-Jones C, Kertesz MA, Preziosi RF

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Ecology

Year: 2010

Volume: 91

Pages: 1563-1568

Print publication date: 01/06/2010

Date deposited: 05/10/2012

ISSN (print): 0012-9658

ISSN (electronic): 1939-9170

Publisher: Ecological Society of America


DOI: 10.1890/09-2070.1


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