, Volume 171, Issue 4, pp 789–796 | Cite as

Interactions between environmental stressors: the influence of salinity on host–parasite interactions between Daphnia magna and Pasteuria ramosa

  • Matthew D. HallEmail author
  • Andrea Vettiger
  • Dieter Ebert
Physiological ecology - Original research


Interactions between environmental stressors play an important role in shaping the health of an organism. This is particularly true in terms of the prevalence and severity of infectious disease, as stressors in combination will not always act to simply decrease the immune function of a host, but may instead interact to compound or even oppose the influence of parasitism on the health of an organism. Here, we explore the impact of environmental stress on host–parasite interactions using the water flea Daphnia magna and it is obligate parasite Pasteuria ramosa. Utilising an ecologically relevant stressor, we focus on the combined effect of salinity and P. ramosa on the fecundity and survival of the host, as well as on patterns of infectivity and the proliferation of the parasite. We show that in the absence of the parasite, host fecundity and survival was highest in the low salinity treatments. Once a parasite was introduced into the environment, however, salinity and parasitism acted antagonistically to influence both host survival and fecundity, and these patterns of disease were unrelated to infection rates or parasite spore loads. By summarising the form of interactions found in the broader Daphnia literature, we highlight how the combined effect of stress and parasitism will vary with the type of stressor, the trait used to describe the health of Daphnia and the host–parasite combination under observation. Our results highlight how the context-dependent nature of interactions between stress and parasitism inevitably complicates the link between environmental factors and the prevalence and severity of disease.


Bacteria Environmental conditions Infection Infectious disease Salt stress Stress Virulence 



This study was supported by an EU Marie Curie Incoming International Fellowship (PIIF-GA-2009-252417) to MDH and by the Swiss National Science Foundation. We thank David J. Marcogliese, two anonymous reviewers and members of the Ebert Group for comments on the manuscipt, and J. Hottinger and U. Stiefel for laboratory assistance. All experiments complied with the current laws of Switzerland.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew D. Hall
    • 1
    Email author
  • Andrea Vettiger
    • 1
  • Dieter Ebert
    • 1
  1. 1.Zoologisches Institut, EvolutionsbiologieUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland

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