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Parasitology. 2003 Dec;127(Pt 6):571-7.

Differential phenoloxidase activity between native and invasive gammarids infected by local acanthocephalans: differential immunosuppression?

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Equipe Ecologie-Evolutive, UMR CNRS 5561 Biogéosciences, Université de Bourgogne, 6 Boulevard Gabriel, 21000 Dijon, France.


Manipulative endoparasites can alter the behaviour and the physiology of their intermediate hosts in ways that increase the probability of successful transmission to the final host. This requires that the parasite is able to circumvent its host's immune defence. Successful immune evasion may depend on host-parasite coevolutionary history and the appearance of new hosts invading the local host population may promote local parasite maladaptation. To test this hypothesis, we examined the effect of 2 acanthocephalan parasites, Pomphorhynchus laevis and Polymorphus minutus, on the immunity of their local and new invasive gammarid intermediate hosts, respectively Gammarus pulex and Gammarus roeseli. We found that infection by each parasite was correlated with a decrease, at different degrees, of the standing level of immune defence in local hosts--measured as the phenoloxidase (PO) enzyme activity--whereas invasive hosts infected by P. laevis had their PO-enzyme activity enhanced. These results suggest that these acanthocephalans evade their local host immune response through immunosuppression but cannot evade the immune response of their new invasive host. The potential role of this maladaptation on the success of invasive species is discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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