May 23, 2012

Parasite diversity and coinfection determine pathogen infection success and host fitness

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Pieter T J Johnson, Jason T Hoverman

Abstract

While the importance of changes in host biodiversity for disease risk continues to gain empirical support, the influence of natural variation in parasite diversity on epidemiological outcomes remains largely overlooked. Here, we combined field infection data from 2,191 amphibian hosts representing 158 parasite assemblages with mechanistic experiments to evaluate the influence of parasite richness on both parasite transmission and host fitness. Using a guild of larval trematode parasites (six species) and an amphibian host, our experiments contrasted the effects of parasite richness vs. composition, observed vs. randomized assemblages, and additive vs. replacement designs. Consistent with the dilution effect hypothesis extended to intrahost diversity, increases in parasite richness reduced overall infection success, including infections by the most virulent parasite. However, the effects of parasite richness on host growth and survival were context dependent; pathology increased when parasites were administered additively, even when the presence of the most pathogenic species was held constant, but decreased when added species replaced or reduced virulent species, emphasizing the importance of community composition and assembly....Continue Reading

Mentioned in this Paper

Amphibians
Host-Parasite Interactions
Pathogenicity
Pathogenic Organism
Salientia
Coinfection
Trematoda
Survival Analysis
Metagonimiasis
Echinochasmus

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