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Within-host transmission strategies of transovarial, feminizing parasites of Gammarus duebeni

By A.M. Dunn, R.S. Terry and D.E. Taneyhill


The amphipod Gammarus duebeni harbours several species of vertically transmitted, feminizing microsporidian parasites. G. duebeni were collected from 3 localities in the UK. Animals from Budle Bay, Northumberland, were infected with Octosporea effeminans, and those from Millport, Isle of Cumbrae and Fenham Flats, Northumberland were infected with microsporidia of the genus Nosema. We derived expected distributions of parasites per host embryonic cell by modelling parasite transmission as a multitype, Galton–Watson branching process. Parasite prevalence (proportion of females infected) was significantly heterogeneous among localities. Parasite burden in zygotes was much higher for females infected with Nosema than in animals infected with O. effeminans. There was no significant difference between localities in the number of Nosema in the zygotes. Comparison of models and data from 64-cell host embryos showed that the distributions of parasites per cell were consistent with the hypothesis that sorting of parasites into daughter cells is biased for at least 1 cell lineage. Host embryos infected with O. effeminans could expect to contain a growing number of parasites in each cell generation within such biased cell lineages; similar estimates for Nosema predict a decline in the number of parasites per cell within a biased lineage. We discuss the possibility that the 2 species of parasite may be employing different strategies in order to ensure transmission to the next host generation.\ud \u

Year: 1998
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