The Genotypic Structure of a Multi-Host Bumblebee Parasite Suggests a Role for Ecological Niche Overlap
Salathé, Rahel M.
- Journal Article
Rights / licenseCreative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
The genotypic structure of parasite populations is an important determinant of ecological and evolutionary dynamics of host-parasite interactions with consequences for pest management and disease control. Genotypic structure is especially interesting where multiple hosts co-exist and share parasites. We here analyze the natural genotypic distribution of Crithidia bombi, a trypanosomatid parasite of bumblebees (Bombus spp.), in two ecologically different habitats over a time period of three years. Using an algorithm to reconstruct genotypes in cases of multiple infections, and combining these with directly identified genotypes from single infections, we find a striking diversity of infection for both data sets, with almost all multi-locus genotypes being unique, and are inferring that around half of the total infections are resulting from multiple strains. Our analyses further suggest a mixture of clonality and sexuality in natural populations of this parasite species. Finally, we ask whether parasite genotypes are associated with host species (the phylogenetic hypothesis) or whether ecological factors (niche overlap in flower choice) shape the distribution of parasite genotypes (the ecological hypothesis). Redundancy analysis demonstrates that in the region with relatively high parasite prevalence, both host species identity and niche overlap are equally important factors shaping the distribution of parasite strains, whereas in the region with lower parasite prevalence, niche overlap more strongly contributes to the distribution observed. Overall, our study underlines the importance of ecological factors in shaping the natural dynamics of host-parasite systems Show more
Journal / seriesPLoS ONE
Pages / Article No.
PublisherPublic Library of Science
Organisational unit03330 - Schmid-Hempel, Paul
MoreShow all metadata