• Ecological stoichiometry;
  • host–parasite interaction;
  • microsporidian;
  • multiple stressors;
  • P-deficiency


Phosphorus (P) is an essential nutrient for growth in consumers. P-limitation and parasite infection comprise one of the most common stressor pairs consumers confront in nature. We conducted a life-table study using a Daphnia–microsporidian parasite model, feeding uninfected or infected Daphnia with either P-sufficient or P-limited algae, and assessed the impact of the two stressors on life-history traits of the host. Both infection and P-limitation negatively affected some life-history traits tested. However, under P-limitation, infected animals had higher juvenile growth rate as compared with uninfected animals. All P-limited individuals died before maturation, regardless of infection. The numbers of spore clusters of the microsporidian parasite did not differ in P-limited or P-sufficient hosts. P-limitation, but not infection, decreased body phosphorus content and ingestion rates of Daphnia tested in separate experiments. As parasite spore production did not suffer even under extreme P-limitation, our results suggest that parasite was less limited by P than the host. We discuss possible interpretations concerning the stoichiometrical demands of parasite and suggest that our results are explained by parasite-driven changes in carbon (C) allocation of the hosts. We conclude that the impact of nutrient starvation and parasite infection on consumers depends not only on the stoichiometric demands of host but also those of the parasite.