Mixed infections and insect–pathogen interactions

Authors

  • Matthew B. Thomas,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Agricultural Sciences, Imperial College, Wye, Kent TN25 5AH, UK
    2. Centre for Population Biology, Imperial College, Silwood Park, Ascot, Berks SL5 7PY, UK
      * Correspondence: E-mail: m.thomas@ic.ac.uk
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  • Emma L. Watson,

    1. Centre for Population Biology, Imperial College, Silwood Park, Ascot, Berks SL5 7PY, UK
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  • Pablo Valverde-Garcia

    1. Centre for Population Biology, Imperial College, Silwood Park, Ascot, Berks SL5 7PY, UK
    2. Entomología Agrícola, Departamento de Ciencias y Recursos Agrícolas y Forestales, ETSIAM, Universidad de Córdoba, Apartado 3048, Avda. Menéndez Pidal s/n, 14080 Cordoba, Spain
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* Correspondence: E-mail: m.thomas@ic.ac.uk

Abstract

Abstract Most studies of insect–pathogen interactions consider the direct interaction between one disease agent and one species of host. However, given that hosts are subject to challenge from many pathogen/parasite species, mixed infections are probably common. In this study, using the desert locust and two species of fungal entomopathogen, we show how mixed infection with a largely avirulent pathogen can alter the virulence and reproduction of a second, highly virulent pathogen. We find that two strains of the avirulent pathogen vary in their interaction with the virulent pathogen, depending on the order of infection and environmental conditions. We propose that avirulent pathogens, which have largely been overlooked to date, could play a significant role in host–pathogen dynamics, with implications for biological control and evolution of virulence.

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