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The role of spore morphology in horizontal transmission of a microsporidium of Daphnia

Urca, Hadas, Ben-Ami, Frida
Parasitology 2018 v.145 no.11 pp. 1452-1457
Daphnia magna, Microsporidia, eggs, hosts, mortality, parasites, parthenogenesis, prediction, spores
The microsporidian parasite Hamiltosporidium tvaerminnensis can infect Daphnia magna both horizontally (through environmental spores) and vertically (through parthenogenetic and sexually produced eggs). The spores of H. tvaerminnensis come in three distinguishable morphologies, which are thought to have different roles in the transmission of the parasite. In this study, we examined the role of the two most common spore morphologies (i.e. oval-shaped spores and pear-shaped spores) in horizontal transmission of H. tvaerminnensis. To this end, we infected hosts with solutions consisting of either mostly oval- or mostly pear-shaped spores, and quantified infection rates, parasite-induced host mortality and mean number of parasite spores produced per host. We found that spore morphology by itself did not influence infection rates and parasite-induced host mortality. Instead, host clone and parasite isolate interacted with spore morphology in shaping infection outcome and mortality. Thus, there appear to be strong genotype-by-genotype (G × G) interactions in this system. While there is no dispute that H. tvaerminnensis can transmit both vertically and horizontally, our findings do not support theoretical predictions that different spore morphologies hold different roles in horizontal transmission of H. tvaerminnensis.