Parasite and host relationship examples

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parasite and host relationship examples

Basis of Classification, Types of Parasites and Definition and Example. In the course of their life cycle, parasite may become associated with more than one host. An example of mutualism is the relationship between the Egyptian plover and Parasitism: One organism (the parasite) gains, while the other (the host) suffers. The parasite lives on or in the body of the host. A few examples of parasites are tapeworms, fleas, and barnacles. A parasite and its host evolve.

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The Relationship between Parasite Fitness and Host Condition in an Insect - Virus System

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parasite and host relationship examples

Received Mar 29; Accepted Jul This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Associated Data The authors confirm that all data underlying the findings are fully available without restriction. Abstract Research in host-parasite evolutionary ecology has demonstrated that environmental variation plays a large role in mediating the outcome of parasite infection.

For example, crowding or low food availability can reduce host condition and make them more vulnerable to parasite infection. This observation that poor-condition hosts often suffer more from parasite infection compared to healthy hosts has led to the assumption that parasite productivity is higher in poor-condition hosts.

However, the ubiquity of this negative relationship between host condition and parasite fitness is unknown. Moreover, examining the effect of environmental variation on parasite fitness has been largely overlooked in the host-parasite literature.

Parasitism Examples

Here we investigate the relationship between parasite fitness and host condition by using a laboratory experiment with the cabbage looper Trichoplusia ni and its viral pathogen, AcMNPV, and by surveying published host-parasite literature. Our experiments demonstrated that virus productivity was positively correlated with host food availability and the literature survey revealed both positive and negative relationships between host condition and parasite fitness.

Together these data demonstrate that contrary to previous assumptions, parasite fitness can be positively or negatively correlated with host fitness. We discuss the significance of these findings for host-parasite population biology. Introduction Parasites play a significant role in the ecology and evolution of their hosts.


For example, parasites can regulate host population dynamics [1] — [3]drive the maintenance of host sexual reproduction [4] — [6]and shape the evolution of sexually dimorphic traits [7]. Environmental variation can play a large role in mediating the immediate outcome of parasite infection, as hosts that are reared in crowded conditions or with limited food can suffer greater morbidity or mortality from parasitism compared to hosts in better health [8] — [14].

Far less is known about how stressful conditions for the host such as crowding or food limitation affect the fitness of the parasites. Examining this question is a subtle but significant departure from most host-parasite studies, where the focus is primarily on host performance. Understanding how environmental factors affect parasite fitness might result in more accurate predictions regarding the number of parasite propagules available for subsequent infection.

This information can in turn result in more accurate predictions regarding both the likelihood of infection, and the severity of infection. For parasites that depend solely on their hosts for resources and shelter, a poor environment for the host may translate into a poor environment for the parasite.

parasite and host relationship examples

For example, parasites inhabiting low-quality hosts may have less to eat both quantitatively and qualitativelywhich may reduce parasite production [15][16]. Conversely, hosts in poor condition may have fewer resources to allocate to immune functions or to other defenses against parasites [17][18] thus leaving parasite growth and or reproduction less inhibited by attack from host defenses.