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A nematode that can manipulate the behaviour of slugs

Morris, A, Green, M, Martin, H, Crossland, K, Swaney, WT, Williamson, SM and Rae, R (2018) A nematode that can manipulate the behaviour of slugs. Behavioural Processes. ISSN 0376-6357

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The ability of parasites to manipulate the behaviour of their hosts has evolved multiple times, and has a clear fitness benefit to the parasite in terms of facilitating growth, reproduction and transfer to suitable hosts. The mechanisms by which these behavioural changes are induced are poorly understood, but in many cases parasite manipulation of serotonergic signalling in the host brain is implicated. Here we report that Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita, a parasite of terrestrial gastropod molluscs, can alter the behaviour of slugs. Uninfected slugs (Deroceras panormitanum, Arion subfuscus and Arion hortensis) avoid areas where P. hermaphrodita is present, but slugs infected with P. hermaphrodita are more likely to be found where the nematodes are present. This ability is specific to P. hermaphrodita and other nematodes (Steinernema carpocapsae and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora) do not induce this behavioural change. To investigate how P. hermaphrodita changes slug behaviour we exposed slugs to fluoxetine (a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) and cyproheptadine (a serotonin receptor antagonist). Uninfected slugs fed fluoxetine no longer avoided areas where P. hermaphrodita was present; and conversely, infected slugs fed cyproheptadine showed no increased attraction to areas with nematodes. These findings suggest that a possible mechanism by which P. hermaphrodita is able to manipulate parasite avoidance behaviour in host slugs is by manipulating serotonergic signalling in the brain, and that increased serotonin levels are potentially associated with a reduction in parasite avoidance.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0801 Artificial Intelligence And Image Processing, 1701 Psychology, 1702 Cognitive Science, 1115 Pharmacology And Pharmaceutical Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Divisions: Natural Sciences & Psychology (closed 31 Aug 19)
Publisher: Elsevier
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2018 12:01
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 10:42
DOI or ID number: 10.1016/j.beproc.2018.02.021
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/8178
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