Article: article from journal or magazin.
Potential evidence of parasite avoidance in an avian malarial vector
The two last authors share the seniorship of the study
Epidemiological studies of malaria or other vector-transmitted diseases often consider vectors as passive actors in the complex life cycle of the parasites, assuming that vector populations are homogeneous and vertebrate hosts are equally susceptible to being infected during their lifetime. However, some studies based on both human and rodent malaria systems found that mosquito vectors preferentially selected infected vertebrate hosts. This subject has been scarcely investigated in avian malaria models and even less in wild animals using natural host-parasite associations. We investigated whether the malaria infection status of wild great tits, Parus major, played a role in host selection by the mosquito vector Culex pipiens. Pairs of infected and uninfected birds were tested in a dual-choice olfactometer to assess their attractiveness to the mosquitoes. Plasmodium-infected birds attracted significantly fewer mosquitoes than the uninfected ones, which suggest that avian malaria parasites alter hosts' odours involved in vector orientation. Reaction time of the mosquitoes, that is, the time taken to select a host, and activation of mosquitoes, defined as the proportion of individuals flying towards one of the hosts, were not affected by the bird's infection status. The importance of these behavioural responses for the vector is discussed in light of recent advances in related or similar model systems.
avian malaria, Culex pipiens, dual-choice olfactometer, great tit, host choice, mosquito, Parus major, vector-borne disease
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