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Cooperation or Conflict: Host Manipulation in Multiple Infections

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Host Manipulations by Parasites and Viruses

Part of the book series: Parasitology Research Monographs ((Parasitology Res. Monogr.,volume 7))


Host manipulation is a ubiquitous phenomenon whereby a parasite actively alters its host’s phenotype including host behavior in order to enhance its own fitness beyond benefits gained from exploitation. In nature, hosts are usually infected by multiple parasites. Hence, most manipulating parasites will have to share their host with other parasites some of which might also be manipulators. The interests of these parasites might agree or disagree. Even parasites that do not themselves manipulate might disagree when other parasites manipulate their host’s behavior. If two manipulating parasites agree they could cooperate or free-ride. Especially in parasite species that usually infect their host in high numbers, parasite number seems to affect host manipulation. Conflict can occur between different parasite species with different definitive hosts or different transmission strategies or between different developmental stages of the same parasite species. There is evidence that such conflict can lead to sabotage of one parasite’s manipulation by another. Most studies have focused on intraspecific interactions in complex life cycle parasites and often used only naturally infected hosts. Hence experimental studies of both cooperation and conflict among parasites, especially studies investigating the interaction between different parasite species using the same host are urgently needed.

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Correspondence to Nina Hafer .

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Hafer, N., Milinski, M. (2015). Cooperation or Conflict: Host Manipulation in Multiple Infections. In: Mehlhorn, H. (eds) Host Manipulations by Parasites and Viruses. Parasitology Research Monographs, vol 7. Springer, Cham.

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