Abstracts (first author)


The genetic basis of variation in antiviral defense in Drosophila melanogaster


Author(s): Cao C, Jiggins FM


The presence of evolutionary effects that pathogens and hosts have on one another provides an excellent model to study co-evolution. To understand the molecular basis of how insects evolve resistance to viruses in nature, we have investigated the genes that cause variation in the susceptibility of Drosophila melanogaster to viral infection. Two viruses that naturally infect D.melanogaster: sigma virus (DMelSV) and Drosophila C virus (DCV) have been used in this study. DMelSV infects up to 18% of flies in natural populations and is therefore naturally coevolving with flies. It is only transmitted vertically from parent to offspring and is a host-specific pathogen of D.melanogaster. In contrast, DCV infects many Drosophila species and can be transmitted horizontally. By using recombination mapping and GWAS, we identified genes and polymorphisms in the genes that associated with variation in the susceptibility of D.melanogaster to DMelSV and DCV separately. In order to experimentally verify the roles of these genes, we carried out RNAi experiments to knock down target genes and analysed the changes of susceptibility in flies. We also generated transgenic flies carrying specific polymorphisms of interest and analysed their effects on viral resistance in D.melanogaster.

Abstracts (coauthor)

The evolution and genetics of susceptibility to infectious disease

Author(s): Jiggins, F, Martinez J, Cao C, Chrostek E, Teixeira L


It is common to find considerable genetic variation in susceptibility to infection in natural populations. Not only is this variation abundant, but it can have important implications for health, economic output and the coevolution between hosts and parasites. Within populations of Drosophila, we have found that selection by viruses tends in increase genetic variation in disease susceptibility, due to directional selection increasing the frequency of recently arisen major-effect alleles that increase resistance. Furthermore, bacterial symbionts can also protect many species of Drosophila against viral infection, and the spread of these symbionts also has the potential to generate rapid shifts in the susceptibility of flies to viruses. Overall, susceptibility to viral infection is controlled by a small number of major-effect genes and symbionts that are under strong selection and rapidly change in frequency.


Chairman: Octávio S. Paulo
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XIV Congress of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology

Organization Team
Department of Animal Biology (DBA)
Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon
P-1749-016 Lisbon


Computational Biology & Population Genomics Group