, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 1129-1139
Date: 23 Jan 2010

Evidence for host variation in parasite tolerance in a wild fish population

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Hosts can protect themselves against parasites by actively reducing parasites burden (i.e. resistance) or by limiting the damages caused by parasites (i.e. tolerance). Disentangling between tolerance and resistance is important for predicting the evolutionary outcomes of host-parasite interaction. Dace (Leuciscus leuciscus) are often parasitized by the ectoparasite Tracheliastes polycolpus which feeds on (and destroys) fins, reducing thus the host’s condition. We tested the hypothesis that genetically-based variation in ectoparasite tolerance exists in a wild dace population. We found that moderately heterozygous dace, which are less resistant than highly heterozygous or homozygous dace, tolerated better the effect imposed by T. polycolpus for a given parasite burden. However, tolerance also varied upon environmental conditions, suggesting that genetic and environmentally-based variation exists for both resistance and tolerance in this natural host-parasite system. Moreover, a negative genetic correlation may exist between tolerance and resistance, and hence several evolutionary outcomes are possible in this interacting system.