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Interactions among co-infecting parasite species: a mechanism maintaining genetic variation in parasites?

By Otto Seppälä, Anssi Karvonen, E. Tellervo Valtonen and Jukka Jokela


Individuals of free-living organisms are often infected simultaneously by a community of parasites. If the co-infecting parasites interact, then this can add significantly to the diversity of host genotype×parasite genotype interactions. However, interactions between parasite species are usually not examined considering potential variation in interactions between different strain combinations of co-infecting parasites. Here, we examined the importance of interactions between strains of fish eye flukes Diplostomum spathaceum and Diplostomum gasterostei on their infectivity in naive fish hosts. We assessed the infection success of strains of both species in single-strain exposures and in co-exposures with a random strain of the other species. Parasite infection success did not consistently increase or decrease in the co-exposure treatment, but depended on the combinations of co-infecting parasite strains. This disrupted the relative infectivity of D. spathaceum strains observed in single-strain exposures. The infection success of D. gasterostei strains was independent of exposure type. These results suggest that interactions among parasite species may be strain specific and potentially promote maintenance of genetic polymorphism in parasite populations

Topics: Research Article
Publisher: The Royal Society
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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