Dynamics of parasitemia of malaria parasites in a naturally and experimentally infected migratory songbird, the great reed warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus

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Abstract

Little is known about the development of infection of malaria parasites of the genus Plasmodium in wild birds. We used qPCR, targeting specific mitochondrial lineages of Plasmodium ashfordi (GRW2) and Plasmodium relictum (GRW4), to monitor changes in intensities of parasitemia in captive great reed warblers Acrocephalus arundinaceus from summer to spring. The study involved both naturally infected adults and experimentally infected juveniles. The experiment demonstrated that P. ashfordi and P. relictum lineages differ substantially in several life-history traits (e.g. prepatent period and dynamics of parasitemia) and that individual hosts show substantial differences in responses to these infections. The intensity of parasitemia of lineages in mixed infections co-varied positively, suggesting a control mechanism by the host that is general across the parasite lineages. The intensity of parasitemia for individual hosts was highly repeatable suggesting variation between the host individuals in their genetic or acquired control of the infections. In future studies, care must be taken to avoid mixed infections in wild caught donors, and when possible use mosquitoes for the experiments as inoculation of infectious blood ignores important initial stages of the contact between the bird and the parasite.

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Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biological Sciences

Keywords

  • Plasmodium, Acrocephalus arundinaceus, avian malaria, mixed infections, qPCR
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-110
JournalExperimental Parasitology
Volume119
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

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