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DYNAMIC TRANSMISSION, HOST QUALITY, AND POPULATION STRUCTURE IN A MULTIHOST PARASITE OF BUMBLEBEES

Authors

  • Mario X. Ruiz-González,

    1. Department of Zoology, School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland
    2. Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular de Plantas, C.S.I.C.—U.P.V.C/Ingeniero Fausto Elio, s/n. 46022 Valencia, Spain
    3. E-mail: maruigon@upvnet.upv.es
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  • John Bryden,

    1. School of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 OEX, United Kingdom
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  • Yannick Moret,

    1. Université de Bourgogne, UMR CNRS 6282 Biogéosciences, Equipe Ecologie Evolutive, 6 Boulevard Gabriel, 21000 Dijon, France
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  • Christine Reber-Funk,

    1. Institute of Integrative Biology (IBZ), ETH Zurich, Universitätstrasse 16, CH-8092 Zürich, Switzerland
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  • Paul Schmid-Hempel,

    1. Institute of Integrative Biology (IBZ), ETH Zurich, Universitätstrasse 16, CH-8092 Zürich, Switzerland
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  • Mark J. F. Brown

    1. Department of Zoology, School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland
    2. School of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 OEX, United Kingdom
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Abstract

The evolutionary ecology of multihost parasites is predicted to depend upon patterns of host quality and the dynamics of transmission networks. Depending upon the differences in host quality and transmission asymmetries, as well as the balance between intra- and interspecific transmission, the evolution of specialist or generalist strategies is predicted. Using a trypanosome parasite of bumblebees, we ask how host quality and transmission networks relate to parasite population structure across host species, and thus the potential for the evolution of specialist strains adapted to different host species. Host species differed in quality, with parasite growth varying across host species. Highly asymmetric transmission networks, together with differences in host quality, likely explain local population structure of the parasite across host species. However, parasite population structure across years was highly dynamic, with parasite populations varying significantly from one year to the next within individual species at a given site. This suggests that, while host quality and transmission may provide the opportunity for short-term host specialization by the parasite, repeated bottlenecking of the parasite, in combination with its own reproductive biology, overrides these smaller scale effects, resulting in the evolution of a generalist parasite.

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