Specificity of the Toxoplasma gondii-altered behaviour to definitive versus non-definitive host predation risk

Lamberton, P.H.L. , Donnelly, C.A. and Webster, J.P. (2008) Specificity of the Toxoplasma gondii-altered behaviour to definitive versus non-definitive host predation risk. Parasitology, 135(10), (doi:10.1017/S0031182008004666) (PMID:18620624)

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Abstract

The hypothesis that the parasite Toxoplasma gondii manipulates the behaviour of its intermediate rat host in order to increase its chance of being predated specifically by its feline definitive host, rather than a non-definitive host predator species, was tested. The impact of a range of therapeutic drugs, previously demonstrated to be effective in preventing the development of T. gondii-associated behavioural and cognitive alterations in rats, on definitive-host predator specificity was also tested. Using a Y-shaped maze design, we demonstrated that T. gondii-associated behavioural changes, apparently aimed to increase predation rate, do appear to be specific to that of the feline definitive host – there were significant and consistent differences between the (untreated) infected and uninfected rats groups where T. gondii-infected rats tended to choose the definitive host feline-predator-associated maze arm and nest-box significantly more often than a maze arm or nest-box treated with non-definitive host predator (mink) odour. Drug treatment of infected rats prevented any such host-specificity from being displayed. We discuss our results in terms of their potential implications both for T. gondii epidemiology and the evolution of parasite-altered behaviour.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Lamberton, Dr Poppy
Authors: Lamberton, P.H.L., Donnelly, C.A., and Webster, J.P.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:Parasitology
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:0031-1820
ISSN (Online):1469-8161
Published Online:14 July 2008

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