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Parasitology. 2005 Jun;130(Pt 6):637-42.

The impact of host starvation on parasite development and population dynamics in an intestinal trypanosome parasite of bumble bees.

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Department of Zoology, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland.


Host nutrition plays an important role in determining the development and success of parasitic infections. While studies of vertebrate hosts are accumulating, little is known about how host nutrition affects parasites of invertebrate hosts. Crithidia bombi is a gut trypanosome parasite of the bumble bee, Bombus terrestris and here we use it as a model system to determine the impact of host nutrition on the population dynamics and development of micro-parasites in invertebrates. Pollen-starved bees supported significantly smaller populations of the parasite. In pollen-fed bees the parasite showed a temporal pattern in development, with promastigote transmission stages appearing at the start of the infection and gradually being replaced by choanomastigote and amastigote forms. In pollen-starved bees this developmental process was disrupted, and there was no pattern in the appearance of these three forms. We discuss the implications of these results for parasite transmission, and speculate about the mechanisms behind these changes.

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