Evolutionary Dynamic Of Parasites Associated With Social Insect Colonies

1027 words - 5 pages

Sociality has been one of the most common strategies and specialized form of life. Social insects, in particular those that live in large nest environments, have evolved complex interaction systems when millions of individuals cooperate for the benefit of the whole colony. However, large insect colonies confront public health problems similar to large human societies. For example, food storage and limitation, waste management and disease transmission. Disease transmission has received little attention in large colonies of insects. Given their complex structure, buffered environment offered by the nest and efficiency to control parasite outbreaks it has been assumed that large colonies of insects are impenetrable fortresses (reference). Althought, the reciently finding of the parasite Varroa destructor, which is the responsible for the world-wide death of millions of honey bee colonies, has changed the perspective about the colony’s vulnerability against diseases.
Little is known about the evolutionary dynamic between large colonies of eusocial insects and their parasites. Generally, it is assumed that parasites impose a continuing cost to the host fitness, but it is an increasingly recognized that coevolutionary models predict reciprocal interaction dynamic that may result in a more stable relationship (i.e. less harmfull) (Dawkins & Krebs, 1979; Ebert, 1998; Ebert & Herre, 1990), especially, when the parasite is specific to a one single host (Kirchner & Roy, 2002). Evolutionary arm-race explains a mechanism one-to-one within host-parasite system. However, most hosts (i.e., colonies of insects) can confront simultaneously multiple parasites (Hodgson et al., 2004; Thomas, Watson, & Valverde-Garcia, 2003; Vojvodic, Boomsma, Eilenberg, & Jensen, 2012), which may lead to parasite-parasite competition, which can result in increasing parasites virulence and host resistance mechanisms (Hughes, XXX). A classic view of one-to-one interaction model does not fit with accuracy the nature of the colony-parasite interaction if we consider that every individual of the colony may be a potential vector of the disease. This last statement may have different consequences in the evolution of virulence considering the mode of parasite transmission (e.g. horizontal and vertical transmission) or generation time (Haine, Boucansaud, Rigaud, & B, 2005; Vizoso & Ebert, 2005). For example, in large colony of insects the overcrowding condition and close contact between individuals might facilitate horizontally transmitted parasites, which tend to evolve high virulence (Herre XXX, Ewald XXX).
In large colonies of insects, the buffered environment offered by the nest, the proximity and contact among individuals of high genetic relatedness make social insects a target for multiple parasites (Cezilly, Gregoire, & Bertin, 2000; Haine et al., 2005; Rigaud & Haine, 2005). Additionally, it is well-known that some parasites species differ greatly in the impact on their hosts,...

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