Staying alive: The post-consumption fate of parasite spores and its implications for disease dynamics

Duffy, Meghan A.

Limnol. Oceanogr., 54(3), 2009, 770-773 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2009.54.3.0770

ABSTRACT: Studies on the effects of selective predation by fish on disease dynamics in Daphnia generally assume that consumption by fish means the death of the parasite. I use a combination of feeding trials and infection assays to test this assumption using the host Daphnia dentifera and its common, virulent yeast parasite, Metschnikowia bicuspidata. Approximately 50% of Metschnikowia spores consumed by bluegill sunfish were released in fecal pellets. These spores remained infective to D. dentifera. Therefore, consumption of infected hosts by fish is not necessarily a dead end for the parasite, and in some cases, fish predation may actually help fuel epidemics in natural populations.

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