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Title: Fitness and virulence of a bacterial endoparasite in an environmentally stressed crustacean host
Authors: Coors, Anja ×
De Meester, Luc #
Issue Date: Jan-2011
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Series Title: Parasitology vol:138 issue:1 pages:122-131
Abstract: Host-parasite interactions are shaped by the co-evolutionary arms race of parasite virulence, transmission success as well as host resistance and recovery. The virulence and fitness of parasites may depend on host condition, which is mediated, for instance, by host energy constraints. Here, we investigated to what extent stress imposed by predation threat and environmental pollutants influences host-parasite interactions. We challenged the crustacean host Daphnia magna with the sterilizing bacterial endoparasite Pasteuria ramosa and simultaneously exposed the host to fish kairomones, the pesticide carbaryl or both stressors. While parasite virulence, measured as impact on host mortality and sterilization, increased markedly after short-term pesticide exposure, it was not influenced by predation threat. Parasite fitness, measured in terms of produced transmission stages, decreased both in fish and pesticide treatments. This effect was much stronger under predation threat than carbaryl exposure, and was attributable to reduced somatic growth of the host, presumably resulting in fewer resources for parasite development. While the indirect impact of both stressors on spore loads provides evidence for host condition-dependent parasite fitness, the finding of increased virulence only under carbaryl exposure indicates a stronger physiological impact of the neurotoxic chemical compared with the effect of a non-toxic fish kairomone.
ISSN: 0031-1820
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Ecology, Evolution and Biodiversity Conservation Section
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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