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Proc Biol Sci. 2006 Apr 22;273(1589):1031-8.

Temperature-dependent transmission and latency of Holospora undulata, a micronucleus-specific parasite of the ciliate Paramecium caudatum.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Parasitologie Evolutive, CNRS UMR 7103, CC 237, Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie, 7 Quai St-Bernard, 75252 Paris Cedex 05, France.


Transmission of parasites to new hosts crucially depends on the timing of production of transmission stages and their capacity to start an infection. These parameters may be influenced by genetic factors, but also by the environment. We tested the effects of temperature and host genotype on infection probability and latency in experimental populations of the ciliate Paramecium caudatum, after exposure to infectious forms of its bacterial parasite Holospora undulata. Temperature had a significant effect on the expression of genetic variation for transmission and maintenance of infection. Overall, low temperature (10 degrees C) increased levels of (multiple) infection, but arrested parasite development; higher temperatures (23 and 30 degrees C) accelerated the onset of production of infectious forms, but limited transmission success. Viability of infectious forms declined rapidly at 23 and 30 degrees C, thereby narrowing the time window for transmission. Thus, environmental conditions can generate trade-offs between transmission relevant parameters and alter levels of multiple infection or parasite-mediated selection, which may affect evolutionary trajectories of parasite life history or virulence.

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