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Keywords:

  • Daphnia ;
  • dilution effect;
  • host–parasite coevolution;
  • Pasteuria

Abstract

Strong selection on parasites, as well as on hosts, is crucial for fueling coevolutionary dynamics. Selection will be especially strong if parasites that encounter resistant hosts are destroyed and diluted from the local environment. We tested whether spores of the bacterial parasite Pasteuria ramosa were passed through the gut (the route of infection) of their host, Daphnia magna, and whether passaged spores remained viable for a “second chance” at infecting a new host. In particular, we tested if this viability (estimated via infectivity) depended on host genotype, whether or not the genotype was susceptible, and on initial parasite dose. Our results show that Pasteuria spores generally remain viable after passage through both susceptible and resistant Daphnia. Furthermore, these spores remained infectious even after being frozen for several weeks. If parasites can get a second chance at infecting hosts in the wild, selection for infection success in the first instance will be reduced. This could also weaken reciprocal selection on hosts and slow the coevolutionary process.