Higher mortality of the less suitable brown trout host compared to the principal Atlantic salmon host when infested with freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) glochidia
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionParasitology Research. 2021, 120, 2401-2413. 10.1007/s00436-021-07145-4
The freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) is a highly host-specific parasite, with an obligate parasitic stage on salmonid fish. Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and brown trout (Salmo trutta f. trutta and Salmo trutta f. fario) are the only hosts in their European distribution. Some M. margaritifera populations exclusively infest either Atlantic salmon or brown trout, while others infest both hosts with one salmonid species typically being the principal host and the other a less suitable host. Glochidial abundance, prevalence and growth are often used as parameters to measure host suitability, with the most suitable host species displaying the highest parameters. However, it is not known if the degree of host specialisation will negatively influence host fitness (virulence) among different host species. In this study we examined the hypothesis that glochidial infestation would result in differential virulence in two salmonid host species and that lower virulence would be observed on the most suitable host. Atlantic salmon and brown trout were infested with glochidia from two M. margaritifera populations that use Atlantic salmon as their principal host, and the difference in host mortality among infested and control (sham infested) fish was examined. Higher mortality was observed in infested brown trout (the less suitable host) groups, compared to the other test groups. Genetic assignment was used to identify offspring from individual mother mussels. We found that glochidia from individual mothers can infest both the salmonid hosts; however, some mothers displayed a bias towards either salmon or trout. We believe that the differences in host-dependent virulence and the host bias displayed by individual mothers were a result of genotype × genotype interactions between the glochidia and their hosts, indicating that there is an underlying genetic component for this parasite-host interaction.