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Parasitol Today. 1999 Mar;15(3):111-5.

The evolution of trophic transmission.

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  • 1US Geological Survey, Marine Science Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA.


Parasite increased trophic transmission (PITT) is one of the more fascinating tales of parasite evolution. The implications of this go beyond cocktail party anecdotes and science fiction plots as the phenomenon is pervasive and likely to be ecologically and evolutionarily important. Although the subject has already received substantial review, Kevin Lafferty here focuses on evolutionary aspects that have not been fully explored, specifically: (1) How strong should PITT be? (2) How might sexual selection and limb autotomy facilitate PITT? (3) How might infrapopulation regulation in final hosts be important in determining avoidance of infected prey? And (4) what happens when more than one species of parasite is in the same intermediate host?

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