Temperature-dependent costs of parasitism and maintenance of polymorphism under genotype-by-environment interactions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The maintenance of genetic variation for infection-related traits is often attributed to coevolution between hosts and parasites, but it can also be maintained by environmental variation if the relative fitness of different genotypes changes with environmental variation. To gain insight into how infection-related traits are sensitive to environmental variation, we exposed a single host genotype of the freshwater crustacean Daphnia magna to four parasite isolates (which we assume to represent different genotypes) of its naturally co-occurring parasite Pasteuria ramosa at 15, 20 and 25 degrees C. We found that the cost to the host of becoming infected varied with temperature, but the magnitude of this cost did not depend on the parasite isolate. Temperature influenced parasite fitness traits; we found parasite genotype-by-environment (G x E) interactions for parasite transmission stage production, suggesting the potential for temperature variation to maintain genetic variation in this trait. Finally, we tested for temperature-dependent relationships between host and parasite fitness traits that form a key component of models of virulence evolution, and we found them to be stable across temperatures.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology


  • Pasteuria ramosa, infectivity, host-parasite, genotype-by-environment interaction, genetic variation, cost of parasitism, Daphnia magna, virulence evolution, transmission, temperature
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1418-1427
JournalJournal of evolutionary biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Publication categoryResearch