Population-level dynamics in experimental mixed infections: evidence for competitive exclusion among bacterial parasites of Paramecium caudatum

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review

Contributors

  • Alison B. Duncan - , Université de Montpellier (Author)
  • Eike Dusi - , Chair of Limnology (Author)
  • Martina Schrallhammer - , Technische Universität Dresden, University of Freiburg (Author)
  • Thomas Berendonk - , Chair of Limnology, Institute of Hydrobiology, Technische Universität Dresden (Author)
  • Oliver Kaltz - , Université de Montpellier (Author)

Abstract

Parasites frequently share their host populations with other parasites. However, little is known about how different parasites respond to competition with diverse competitor species in the within-host and between-host environments. We explored the repeatability of competition by simultaneously exposing microcosm populations of the ciliate Paramecium caudatum to pairs of parasites from the Holospora species complex (H. undulata, H. caryophila and H. obtusa). We measured how competition affected the persistence and prevalence of each compared to single infections, across three host genotypes. Three weeks post-inoculation we identified the presence of each parasite using fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH). Competitive exclusion (62/72) was more common than co-existence (10/72) in populations inoculated with two parasites. There was a clear pattern of competitive superiority, with H. caryophila persisting in all doubly inoculated populations (with either H. undulata or H. obtusa), and H. undulata tending to exclude H. obtusa. This mirrored infection success in single infections, with H. caryophila having a higher infection prevalence in single inoculations, followed by H. undulata then H. obtusa. The probability of persistence in co-inoculations did not change across the different host genotypes, and prevalence was the same as in single infections. Our results are consistent with superinfection models, which assume the competitive exclusion of parasites upon contact within the same host. Furthermore, such non-random competitive epidemiological dynamics, where one parasite always wins, may be of interest for public health management, especially if the winning parasite is avirulent, as is seemingly the case here.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1380-1389
Number of pages10
JournalOikos
Volume127
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018
Peer-reviewedYes

Keywords

Sustainable Development Goals

Keywords

  • co-infection, epidemiology, Holospora, host–parasite, microcosm