The impact of host starvation on parasite development and population dynamics in an intestinal trypanosome parasite of bumble bees

A. LOGAN a1, M. X. RUIZ-GONZÁLEZ a1 and M. J. F. BROWN a1c1
a1 Department of Zoology, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland

Article author query
logan a   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
ruiz-gonzalez mx   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
brown mj   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Host nutrition plays an important role in determining the development and success of parasitic infections. While studies of vertebrate hosts are accumulating, little is known about how host nutrition affects parasites of invertebrate hosts. Crithidia bombi is a gut trypanosome parasite of the bumble bee, Bombus terrestris and here we use it as a model system to determine the impact of host nutrition on the population dynamics and development of micro-parasites in invertebrates. Pollen-starved bees supported significantly smaller populations of the parasite. In pollen-fed bees the parasite showed a temporal pattern in development, with promastigote transmission stages appearing at the start of the infection and gradually being replaced by choanomastigote and amastigote forms. In pollen-starved bees this developmental process was disrupted, and there was no pattern in the appearance of these three forms. We discuss the implications of these results for parasite transmission, and speculate about the mechanisms behind these changes.

(Received August 23 2004)
(Revised December 16 2004)
(Accepted December 17 2004)

Key Words: trypanosomes; Crithidia bombi; bumble bees; Bombus terrestris; host nutrition; population dynamics.

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