Article: article from journal or magazin.
Natural malaria infection reduces starvation resistance of nutritionally stressed mosquitoes.
Journal of Animal Ecology
In disease ecology, there is growing evidence that environmental quality interacts with parasite and host to determine host susceptibility to an infection. Most studies of malaria parasites have focused on the infection costs incurred by the hosts, and few have investigated the costs on mosquito vectors. The interplay between the environment, the vector and the parasite has therefore mostly been ignored and often relied on unnatural or allopatric Plasmodium/vector associations. Here, we investigated the effects of natural avian malaria infection on both fecundity and survival of field-caught female Culex pipiens mosquitoes, individually maintained in laboratory conditions. We manipulated environmental quality by providing mosquitoes with different concentrations of glucose-feeding solution prior to submitting them to a starvation challenge. We used molecular-based methods to assess mosquitoes' infection status. We found that mosquitoes infected with Plasmodium had lower starvation resistance than uninfected ones only under low nutritional conditions. The effect of nutritional stress varied with time, with the difference of starvation resistance between optimally and suboptimally fed mosquitoes increasing from spring to summer, as shown by a significant interaction between diet treatment and months of capture. Infected and uninfected mosquitoes had similar clutch size, indicating no effect of infection on fecundity. Overall, this study suggests that avian malaria vectors may suffer Plasmodium infection costs in their natural habitat, under certain environmental conditions. This may have major implications for disease transmission in the wild.
avian malaria, Culex pipiens, host-parasite co-evolution, life-history traits, Plasmodium, resource limitation, trade-offs
Web of science
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