DAO 125:85-92 (2017)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03133

Effect of dose and frequency of exposure to infectious stages on trematode infection intensity and success in mussels

Caroline Liddell, Jennifer E. Welsh, Jaap van der Meer, David W. Thieltges*

NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Department of Coastal Systems, and Utrecht University, PO Box 59, 1790 AB den Burg, Texel, The Netherlands
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Marine parasites such as trematodes often compromise the fitness of their hosts. Such effects are generally considered to be density-dependent, i.e. the greater the infection intensity in the host, the greater the detrimental impact on host fitness. However, the mechanisms determining infection in marine hosts are still poorly understood. Here, we investigated the effect of cercarial dose and exposure frequency (single vs. trickle infections) of a marine trematode parasite, Himasthla elongata (Trematoda: Echinostomatidae), on infection intensity and success in its second intermediate host, the blue mussel Mytilus edulis, an abundant and widely distributed bivalve in European coastal waters. In our laboratory experiment, we tested 4 levels of parasite doses and showed that mussels faced higher parasite infection intensity at higher doses of cercarial exposure and that they acquired more infections when repeatedly exposed to smaller doses compared to a single high dose. However, the infection success of cercariae did not differ among 4 dose levels but was only significantly different between trickle and single exposures. This indicates that cercariae were not subjected to a dose-dependent regulation of their infectivity, suggesting that infection intensity in mussels is largely driven by factors mediating the abundance of infective stages. With the combined investigation of the effect of cercarial dose and exposure frequency at realistic dose levels, our study contributes to our currently very limited understanding of the determinants of infection intensity in marine hosts and highlights the usefulness of experimental studies in advancing our knowledge in this field.


KEY WORDS: Parasitism · Trematodes · Transmission · Bivalves · Dose-dependence · Infectivity · Mytilus edulis · Himasthla elongata


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Cite this article as: Liddell C, Welsh JE, van der Meer J, Thieltges DW (2017) Effect of dose and frequency of exposure to infectious stages on trematode infection intensity and success in mussels. Dis Aquat Org 125:85-92. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03133

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