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Mixed infections and hybridisation in monogenean parasites

Schelkle, Bettina, Faria, Patricia, Johnson-Bawe, Mireille, van Oosterhout, Cock and Cable, Joanne 2012. Mixed infections and hybridisation in monogenean parasites. PLoS ONE 7 (7) , e39506. 10.1371/journal.pone.0039506

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Theory predicts that sexual reproduction promotes disease invasion by increasing the evolutionary potential of the parasite, whereas asexual reproduction tends to enhance establishment success and population growth rate. Gyrodactylid monogeneans are ubiquitous ectoparasites of teleost fish, and the evolutionary success of the specious Gyrodactylus genus is thought to be partly due to their use of various modes of reproduction. Gyrodactylus turnbulli is a natural parasite of the guppy (Poecilia reticulata), a small, tropical fish used as a model for behavioural, ecological and evolutionary studies. Using experimental infections and a recently developed microsatellite marker, we conclusively show that monogenean parasites reproduce sexually. Conservatively, we estimate that sexual recombination occurs and that between 3.7–10.9% of the parasites in our experimental crosses are hybrid genotypes with ancestors from different laboratory strains of G. turnbulli. We also provide evidence of hybrid vigour and/or inter-strain competition, which appeared to lead to a higher maximum parasite load in mixed infections. Finally, we demonstrate inbreeding avoidance for the first time in platyhelminths which may influence the distribution of parasites within a host and their subsequent exposure to the host's localized immune response. Combined reproductive modes and inbreeding avoidance may explain the extreme evolutionary diversification success of parasites such as Gyrodactylus, where host-parasite coevolution is punctuated by relatively frequent host switching.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Publisher: PLoS
ISSN: 1932-6203
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2018 20:34

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