Competitive interactions and persistence of two nematode species that parasitize Drosophila recens


  • Editor, J.C. Koella


Drosophila recens is parasitized in the wild by two nematodes, Howardula aoronymphium, a host generalist, and Parasitylenchus nearcticus, a host specialist known only from Drecens. In order to understand how these two parasite species coexist, we compared their ability to infect and grow in Drecens, their effects on host fecundity and survival, and whether one parasite species was competitively superior in double infections. The specialist nematode P. nearcticus had greater rates of infection and reproduction than the generalist H. aoronymphium, and completely sterilized females in single and mixed infections. The specialist was competitively superior in mixed infections, as generalist motherworms were significantly smaller than in single infections. These results suggest that P. nearcticus might competitively exclude H. aoronymphium if D. recens were the only host available. It is likely that H. aoronymphium persists in D. recens by transmission from other, more suitable host species.