10.1111/evo.12612

When parasites disagree: Evidence for parasite-induced sabotage of host manipulation

Abstract

Host manipulation is a common parasite strategy to alter host behavior in a manner to enhance parasite fitness usually by increasing the parasite’s transmission to the next host. In nature, hosts often harbour multiple parasites with agreeing or conflicting interests over host manipulation. Natural selection might drive such parasites to cooperation, compromise or sabotage. Sabotage would occur, if one parasite suppresses the manipulation of another. Experimental studies on the effect of multi-parasite interactions on host manipulation are scarce, clear experimental evidence for sabotage is elusive. We tested the effect of multiple infections on host manipulation using lab bred copepods experimentally infected with the trophically transmitted tapeworm Schistocephalus solidus. This parasite is known to manipulate its host depending on its own developmental stage. Coinfecting parasites with the same aim enhanced each other’s manipulation but only after reaching infectivity. If the coinfecting parasites disagree over host manipulation, the infective parasite wins this conflict: the non-infective one has no effect. The winning (i.e. infective) parasite suppresses the manipulation of its non-infective competitor. This presents conclusive experimental evidence for both cooperation in and sabotage of host manipulation and hence a proof of principal that one parasite can alter and even neutralize manipulation by another

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Last time updated on June 15, 2019

This paper was published in MPG.PuRe.

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