In its freshwater amphipod host Gammarus duebeni celticus, the microsporidian parasite Pleistophora mulleri showed 23% transmission efficiency when uninfected individuals were fed infected tissue, but 0% transmission by water-borne and coprophagous routes. Cannibalism between unparasitised and parasitised individuals was significantly in favour of the former (37% compared to 0%). In addition, cannibalism between parasitised individuals was significantly higher than between unparasitised individuals (27% compared to 0%). Thus, parasitised individuals were more likely to be cannibalised by both unparasitised and parasitised individuals. We discuss the conflicting selective forces within this host/parasite relationship, the implications of parasite mediated cannibalism for host population structure and the impacts this may have on the wider aquatic community.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases