Research Article

Biological invasion and parasitism: invaders do not suffer from physiological alterations of the acanthocephalan Pomphorhynchus laevis

S. CORNETa1 c1, G. SORCIa1 and Y. MORETa1

a1 Université de Bourgogne, UMR CNRS 5561 Biogéosciences, Equipe Ecologie Evolutive, 6 Bd Gabriel, 21000 Dijon, France


Biological invasions expose parasites to new invasive hosts in addition to their local hosts. However, local parasites are often less successful in infecting and exploiting their new hosts. This may have major consequences for the competitive ability of hosts, and finally on the fate of the parasite-host community. In Burgundy (Eastern France), the acanthocephalan parasite, Pomphorhynchus laevis, infects 2 amphipod species living in sympatry: the native Gammarus pulex and the invasive Gammarus roeseli. While P. laevis affects the behaviour and the immunity of G. pulex, G. roeseli seems unaffected by the infection. In this study, we examined in detail the ability of the parasite to affect the immune system and resource storage of both gammarid species. We found that the infection was associated with a general decrease of the prophenoloxidase activity, haemocyte density, resistance to an artificial bacterial infection and level of sugar reserves in G. pulex, but not in G. roeseli. These results demonstrate a differential ability of P. laevis to exploit its local and its invasive gammarid hosts. Potential mechanisms of these differential physiological alterations and their potential consequences on the coexistence of both gammarid species in sympatry are discussed.

(Received April 21 2009)

(Revised June 08 2009)

(Revised July 02 2009)

(Accepted July 09 2009)

(Online publication September 21 2009)


c1 Corresponding author: Tel: +33 380399157. Fax: +33 380396231. E-mail: