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Int J Parasitol. 2007 Jan;37(1):61-5. Epub 2006 Oct 2.

Infection with an acanthocephalan manipulates an amphipod's reaction to a fish predator's odours.

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Institute for Evolutionary Biology and Ecology, University of Bonn, An der Immenburg 1, D-53121 Bonn, Germany.


Many parasites with complex life cycles increase the chances of reaching a final host by adapting strategies to manipulate their intermediate host's appearance, condition or behaviour. The acanthocephalan parasite Pomphorhynchus laevis uses freshwater amphipods as intermediate hosts before reaching sexual maturity in predatory fish. We performed a series of choice experiments with infected and uninfected Gammarus pulex in order to distinguish between the effects of visual and olfactory predator cues on parasite-induced changes in host behaviour. When both visual and olfactory cues, as well as only olfactory cues were offered, infected and uninfected G. pulex showed significantly different preferences for the predator or the non-predator side. Uninfected individuals significantly avoided predator odours while infected individuals significantly preferred the side with predator odours. When only visual contact with a predator was allowed, infected and uninfected gammarids behaved similarly and had no significant preference. Thus, we believe we show for the first time that P. laevis increases its chance to reach a final host by olfactory-triggered manipulation of the anti-predator behaviour of its intermediate host.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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