In an arms race between host and parasite, a lungworm's ability to infect a toad is determined by host susceptibility, not parasite preference [article]

Harrison JF. Eyck, Gregory P. Brown, Lee A. Rollins, Richard Shine
2021 bioRxiv   pre-print
AbstractEvolutionary arms races can alter both parasite infectivity and host resistance, and it is difficult to separate the effects of these twin determinants of infection outcomes. Using a co-introduced, invasive host-parasite system (the lungworm Rhabdias pseudosphaerocephala and the cane toad Rhinella marina), we quantified behavioural responses of parasite larvae to skin-chemical cues of toads from different invasive populations, and rates at which hosts became infected following
more » ... ed exposure to lungworms. Chemical cues from toad skin altered host-seeking behaviour by parasites, similarly among populations. The number of infection attempts (parasite larvae entering the host's body) also did not differ between populations, but rates of successful infection (establishment of adult worm in host lungs) was higher for range-edge toads than for range-core conspecifics. Thus, lower resistance to parasite infection in range-edge toads appears to be due to less effective immune defences of the host rather than differential behavioural responses of the parasite. In this ongoing host-parasite arms-race, changing outcomes appear to be driven by shifts in host immunocompetence.
doi:10.1101/2021.10.19.464902 fatcat:utsoebur55c3ll44imxoalc6cm