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Infection by a vertically-transmitted microsporidian parasite is associated with a female-biased sex ratio and survival advantage in the amphipod Gammarus roeseli

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 April 2007

E. R. HAINE
Affiliation:
Equipe Ecologie Evolutive, UMR CNRS 5561 Biogéosciences, Université de Bourgogne, 6 boulevard Gabriel, 21000 Dijon, France
S. MOTREUIL
Affiliation:
Equipe Ecologie Evolutive, UMR CNRS 5561 Biogéosciences, Université de Bourgogne, 6 boulevard Gabriel, 21000 Dijon, France
T. RIGAUD*
Affiliation:
Equipe Ecologie Evolutive, UMR CNRS 5561 Biogéosciences, Université de Bourgogne, 6 boulevard Gabriel, 21000 Dijon, France
*
*Corresponding author. Tel: +33 380 39 39 45. Fax: +33 380 39 62 31. E-mail: thierry.rigaud@u-bourgogne.fr

Summary

Vertically transmitted parasites may have positive, neutral or negative effects on host fitness, and are also predicted to exhibit sex-specific virulence to increase the proportion or fitness of the transmitting sex. We investigated these predictions in a study on the survival and sex ratio of offspring of the amphipod Gammarus roeseli from females infected by the vertically transmitted microsporidia Nosema granulosis. We found, to our knowledge, the first evidence for a positive relationship between N. granulosis infection and host survival. Infection was associated with sex ratio distortion, not by male-killing, but probably by parasite-induced feminization of putative G. roeseli males. This microsporidia also feminizes another amphipod host, Gammarus duebeni, which is phylogenetically and biogeographically distant from G. roeseli. Our study suggests that the reproductive system of gammarids is easily exploited by these vertically-transmitted parasites, although the effects of infections on host fitness may depend on specific host-parasite species interactions.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2007

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Infection by a vertically-transmitted microsporidian parasite is associated with a female-biased sex ratio and survival advantage in the amphipod Gammarus roeseli
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