Parasites can manipulate their hosts to increase their transmission success. Avian malaria parasites (Plasmodium) are thought to alter the cues such as host odour, used by host-seeking mosquitoes. Bird odour is affected by secretions from the uropygial gland and may play a role in modulating vector-host interactions. We tested the hypothesis that mosquitoes are more attracted to the uropygial secretions and/or whole-body odour (headspace) of Plasmodium-infected house sparrows (Passer domesticus) than to those of uninfected birds. We tested the attraction of nulliparous (e.g. uninfected mosquitoes without previous access to blood) Culex pipiens females towards these stimuli in a dual-choice olfactometer.
avian malaria parasites
The transcriptional response of hosts to genetically similar pathogens can vary substantially, with important implications for disease severity and host fitness. A low pathogen load can theoretically elicit both high and low host responses, as the outcome depends on both the effectiveness of the host at suppressing the pathogen and the ability of the pathogen to evade the immune system. Here, we investigate the transcriptional response of Eurasian siskins (Spinus spinus) to two closely related lineages of the malaria parasite Plasmodium relictum.
Plasmodium elongatum (cytochrome b lineage pGRW6) is a widespread avian malaria parasite, often causing severe disease in non-adapted hosts. This parasite lineage is of global distribution however, its virulence remains insufficiently understood, particularly in wild birds. Surprisingly, this infection has never been reported in Common starlings Sturnus vulgaris and Common crossbills Loxia curvirostra, common European songbirds which were extensively sampled across Europe. A hypothesis was proposed that these birds might be resistant to the pGRW6 infection. The aim of this study was to test this hypothesis.