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Avian malaria infection intensity influences mosquito feeding patterns

AuthorsYan, Jiayue; Martínez de la Puente, Josué ; Gangoso, Laura ; Gutiérrez-López, Rafael; Soriguer, Ramón C. ; Figuerola, Jordi
KeywordsAdaptive avoidance
Culex mosquitoes
Host choice
Infection status
Parasite manipulation
Issue Date2017
CitationInternational Journal for Parasitology, Nov. (2017)
AbstractPathogen-induced host phenotypic changes are widespread phenomena that can dramatically influence host–vector interactions. Enhanced vector attraction to infected hosts has been reported in a variety of host–pathogen systems, and has given rise to the parasite manipulation hypothesis whereby pathogens may adaptively modify host phenotypes to increase transmission from host to host. However, host phenotypic changes do not always favour the transmission of pathogens, as random host choice, reduced host attractiveness and even host avoidance after infection have also been reported. Thus, the effects of hosts’ parasitic infections on vector feeding behaviour and on the likelihood of parasite transmission remain unclear. Here, we experimentally tested how host infection status and infection intensity with avian Plasmodium affect mosquito feeding patterns in house sparrows (Passer domesticus). In separate experiments, mosquitoes were allowed to bite pairs containing (i) one infected and one uninfected bird and (ii) two infected birds, one of which treated with the antimalarial drug, primaquine. We found that mosquitoes fed randomly when exposed to both infected and uninfected birds. However, when mosquitoes were exposed only to infected individuals, they preferred to bite the non-treated birds. These results suggest that the malarial parasite load rather than the infection itself plays a key role in mosquito attraction. Our findings partially support the parasite manipulation hypothesis, which probably operates via a reduction in defensive behaviour, and highlights the importance of considering parasite load in studies on host–vector–pathogen interactions.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpara.2017.09.005
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