Water-seeking behavior in worm-infected crickets and reversibility of parasitic manipulation

Fleur Ponton, Fernando Otálora-Luna*, Thierry Lefvre, Patrick M. Guerin, Camille Lebarbenchon, David Duneau, David G. Biron, Frédéric Thomas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

One of the most fascinating examples of parasite-induced host manipulation is that of hairworms, first, because they induce a spectacular "suicide" water-seeking behavior in their terrestrial insect hosts and, second, because the emergence of the parasite is not lethal per se for the host that can live several months following parasite release. The mechanisms hairworms use to increase the encounter rate between their host and water remain, however, poorly understood. Considering the selective landscape in which nematomorph manipulation has evolved as well as previously obtained proteomics data, we predicted that crickets harboring mature hairworms would display a modified behavioral response to light. Since following parasite emergence in water, the cricket host and parasitic worm do not interact physiologically anymore, we also predicted that the host would recover from the modified behaviors. We examined the effect of hairworm infection on different behavioral responses of the host when stimulated by light to record responses from uninfected, infected, and ex-infected crickets. We showed that hairworm infection fundamentally modifies cricket behavior by inducing directed responses to light, a condition from which they mostly recover once the parasite is released. This study supports the idea that host manipulation by parasites is subtle, complex, and multidimensional.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-400
Number of pages9
JournalBehavioral Ecology
Volume22
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2011. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

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    Ponton, F., Otálora-Luna, F., Lefvre, T., Guerin, P. M., Lebarbenchon, C., Duneau, D., ... Thomas, F. (2011). Water-seeking behavior in worm-infected crickets and reversibility of parasitic manipulation. Behavioral Ecology, 22(2), 392-400. https://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/arq215