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Parasitology. 2007 Nov;134(Pt 12):1839-47. Epub 2007 Jul 19.

Behavioural and physiological effects of the trophically transmitted cestode parasite, Cyathocephalus truncatus, on its intermediate host, Gammarus pulex.

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


Some parasites with complex life-cycles are able to manipulate the behaviour of their intermediate hosts in a way that increases their transmission to the next host. Gammarids infected by the tapeworm Cyathocephalus truncatus (Cestoda: Spathebothriidea) are known to be more predated by fish than uninfected ones, but potential behavioural manipulation by the parasite has never been investigated. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that C. truncatus is able to manipulate the behaviour of one of its intermediate hosts, Gammarus pulex (Crustacea: Amphipoda). To assess if any behavioural change was linked to other phenotypic alterations, we also measured the immunity of infected and uninfected individuals and investigated the pathogenic effects of the parasite. Infected gammarids were significantly less photophobic than uninfected ones, but no effect of infection on the level of immune defence was found. The results on survival, swimming activity and oxygen consumption suggest that the parasite also has various pathogenic effects. However, the alteration in host phototaxis was not correlated to some of these pathogenic effects. Therefore, we propose that the modification in host reaction to light is a behavioural manipulation, explaining the previously observed increase of gammarid predation rate.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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