CROSS-SPECIES INFECTION TRIALS REVEAL CRYPTIC PARASITE VARIETIES AND A PUTATIVE POLYMORPHISM SHARED AMONG HOST SPECIES

Authors


Abstract

A parasite's host range can have important consequences for ecological and evolutionary processes but can be difficult to infer. Successful infection depends on the outcome of multiple steps and only some steps of the infection process may be critical in determining a parasites host range. To test this hypothesis, we investigated the host range of the bacterium Pasteuria ramosa, a Daphnia parasite, and determined the parasites success in different stages of the infection process. Multiple genotypes of Daphnia pulex, Daphnia longispina and Daphnia magna were tested with four Pasteuria genotypes using infection trials and an assay that determines the ability of the parasite to attach to the hosts esophagus. We find that attachment is not specific to host species but is specific to host genotype. This may suggest that alleles on the locus controlling attachment are shared among different host species that diverged 100 million year. However, in our trials, Pasteuria was never able to reproduce in nonnative host species, suggesting that Pasteuria infecting different host species are different varieties, each with a narrow host range. Our approach highlights the explanatory power of dissecting the steps of the infection process and resolves potentially conflicting reports on parasite host ranges.

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