Faculté des sciences

Apparent seasonality of parasite dynamics: analysis of cyclic prevalence patterns

Lass, Sandra ; Ebert, Dieter

In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2006, vol. 243, no. 1583, p. 199-206

Seasonal disease dynamics are common in nature, but their causes are often unknown. Our case study provides insight into the cyclic prevalence pattern of the horizontally and vertically transmitted microsporidium Octosporea bayeri in its Daphnia magna host. Data from several populations over a four year period revealed a regular prevalence increase during summer and a decrease over... Plus

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    Summary
    Seasonal disease dynamics are common in nature, but their causes are often unknown. Our case study provides insight into the cyclic prevalence pattern of the horizontally and vertically transmitted microsporidium Octosporea bayeri in its Daphnia magna host. Data from several populations over a four year period revealed a regular prevalence increase during summer and a decrease over winter when hosts underwent diapause. Prevalence also decreased after summer diapause indicating that the decline is causally linked to diapause rather than to winter conditions. Experiments showed that host diapause itself can explain a certain proportion of the decline. The decline further depends on the environmental conditions during diapause: infected resting eggs suffered from higher mortality under experimental winter than under experimental summer diapause conditions. Investigating the mechanisms of prevalence increase after diapause, the parasite was found to survive winter outside its host, enabling horizontal infection of susceptible hosts in the following growing season. Allowing for horizontal transmission in experimental host populations resulted in a steep prevalence increase, while excluding it led to a pronounced decline. Thus, the apparent seasonality in O. bayeri prevalence is characterized by a decline during host diapause followed by horizontal spread of the parasite during the host's asexual growth phase.