Do distantly related parasites rely on the same proximate factors to alter the behaviour of their hosts?

F. Ponton*, T. Lefevre, C. Lebarbenchon, F. Thomas, H. D. Loxdale, L. Marché, L. Renault, M. J. Perrot-Minnot, D. G. Biron

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Phylogenetically unrelated parasites often increase the chances of their transmission by inducing similar phenotypic changes in their hosts. However, it is not known whether these convergent strategies rely on the same biochemical precursors. In this paper, we explored such aspects by studying two gammarid species (Gammarus insensibilis and Gammarus pulex; Crustacea: Amphipoda: Gammaridae) serving as intermediate hosts in the life cycle of two distantly related parasites: the trematode, Microphallus papillorobustus and the acanthocephalan, Polymorphus minutus. Both these parasite species are known to manipulate the behaviour of their amphipod hosts, bringing them towards the water surface, where they are preferentially eaten by aquatic birds (definitive hosts). By studying and comparing the brains of infected G. insensibilis and G. pulex with proteomics tools, we have elucidated some of the proximate causes involved in the parasite-induced alterations of host behaviour for each system. Protein identifications suggest that altered physiological compartments in hosts can be similar (e.g. immunoneural connexions) or different (e.g. vision process), and hence specific to the host-parasite association considered. Moreover, proteins required to alter the same physiological compartment can be specific or conversely common in both systems, illustrating in the latter case a molecular convergence in the proximate mechanisms of manipulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2869-2877
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1603
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Acanthocephalan
  • Gammarid
  • Manipulative parasite
  • Molecular convergence
  • Proteomics
  • Trematode


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