Are you a working biologist, biology student, or other person with a first-hand connection to the living world? Do you like reading science blogs—including maybe this one—and wonder what it’d be like to get into this online-popular-science-writing thing? Or do you have your own science blog already, and want to expand your audience? Then you should consider writing a guest post for Nothing in Biology Makes Sense!
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Conventional wisdom suggests that pathogens and parasites are more rapidly evolving because of various reasons such as short generation time or stronger selection. Yet somehow, they have not completely won the battle against the host. Recently, a theoretical paper on coevolution in Nature caught my eye (Gilman et al., 2012). Here the authors address this paradox: “How do victim species survive and even thrive in the face of a continuous onslaught of more rapidly evolving enemies?”
Instead of treating a coevolutionary interaction between two species as the interaction of only two traits, the authors investigate the nature of an interaction among a suite of traits in each species. It’s not hard to think of a host having a fortress of defenses against attack from a parasite with an arsenal loaded with many weapons.
A paper by Morris and colleagues (2012) has generated some stir among biologists. The authors are proposing the Black Queen hypothesis to explain genomic reductions among free living interacting microbes. Rather than rehash arguments that have been made more eloquently, I’d like to just point out some informative ones
Quick summary over at the New Scientist
In depth critique by Robert T. Gonzalez
Tommy Leung also reminded me of a great review paper by Sachs et al (2011) over at TREE that is highly relevant to this debate.