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Parasitic worms make sex worthwhile
Date:7/23/2009

om the third lake, Poerua, as a kind of control.

The researchers learned that snails from the shallows are especially susceptible to their native worms, but extremely resistant to the infection of worms from other lakes. Furthermore, they learned snails from the same lake were far more likely to be susceptible to infection if they came from the shallows, where snails reproduce sexually, than from the depths of the lake, where the snails tend to reproduce asexually.

Despite a simple experimental design, the revelations were rich. First, higher infection rates by local worms show the snails in the shallows are in active host-parasite coevolution with their local worm parasites, but not with worms from other lakes. Second, the low susceptibility of snails to parasites from the other lakes shows snails in the shallows are not inherently susceptible to parasites, but are rather susceptible to the parasites coevolving with them. Third, higher infection rates in the shallows (Alexandrina or Kaniere) show that sexual reproduction is favored in the presence of coevolving parasites, and not in their absence.


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Contact: David Bricker
brickerd@indiana.edu
812-856-9035
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert  

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