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Ecol Lett. 2015 Dec;18(12):1387-96. doi: 10.1111/ele.12534. Epub 2015 Oct 18.

Bottom-up regulation of malaria population dynamics in mice co-infected with lung-migratory nematodes.

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Department of Entomology, Gardner Hall, Derieux Place, Raleigh NC 27695-7613, USA.
Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health & Comparative Medicine, College of Medical and Veterinary Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G61 1QH, UK.
Institute of Immunology and Infection Research, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH8 9YL, UK.
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, 08544, USA.
Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, 20892, USA.


When and how populations are regulated by bottom up vs. top down processes, and how those processes are affected by co-occurring species, are poorly characterised across much of ecology. We are especially interested in the community ecology of parasites that must share a host. Here, we quantify how resources and immunity affect parasite propagation in experiments in near-replicate 'mesocosms'' - i.e. mice infected with malaria (Plasmodium chabaudi) and nematodes (Nippostrongylus brasiliensis). Nematodes suppressed immune responses against malaria, and yet malaria populations were smaller in co-infected hosts. Further analyses of within-host epidemiology revealed that nematode co-infection altered malaria propagation by suppressing target cell availability. This is the first demonstration that bottom-up resource regulation may have earlier and stronger effects than top-down immune mechanisms on within-host community dynamics. Our findings demonstrate the potential power of experimental ecology to disentangle mechanisms of population regulation in complex communities.


Co-infection; community ecology; effective propagation; immune profile; parasite ecology; predator community; resource regulation; target cell limitation

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