University of Oulu

Cayol, C., Giermek, A., Gomez-Chamorro, A., Hytönen, J., Kallio, E., Mappes, T., Salo, J., Voordouw, M., Koskela, E. (2018) Borrelia afzeliialters reproductive success in a rodent host. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 285 (1884), 20181056. doi:10.1098/rspb.2018.1056

Borrelia afzelii alters reproductive success in a rodent host

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Author: Cayol, Claire1; Giermek, Anna2; Gomez-Chamorro, Andrea3;
Organizations: 1Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Jyväskylä, PO Box 35, 40014, Jyväskylä, Finland
2Institute of Environmental Sciences, Jagiellonian University, Gronostajowa 7, 30-387 Cracow, Poland
3Institut de Biologie, Laboratoire d’Ecologie et Evolution des Parasites, Université de Neuchâtel, Rue Emile-Argand 11, CH-2000 Neuchâtel, Switzerland
4Institute of Biomedicine, University of Turku, Kiinamyllynkatu 13, 20520, Turku, Finland
5Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, PO Box 3000, 90014, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: The Royal Society, 2018
Publish Date: 2018-09-25


The impact of a pathogen on the fitness and behaviour of its natural host depends upon the host–parasite relationship in a given set of environmental conditions. Here, we experimentally investigated the effects of Borrelia afzelii, one of the aetiological agents of Lyme disease in humans, on the fitness of its natural rodent host, the bank vole (Myodes glareolus), in semi-natural conditions with two contrasting host population densities. Our results show that B. afzelii can modify the reproductive success and spacing behaviour of its rodent host, whereas host survival was not affected. Infection impaired the breeding probability of large bank voles. Reproduction was hastened in infected females without alteration of the offspring size at birth. At low density, infected males produced fewer offspring, fertilized fewer females and had lower mobility than uninfected individuals. Meanwhile, the infection did not affect the proportion of offspring produced or the proportion of mating partner in female bank voles. Our study is the first to show that B. afzelii infection alters the reproductive success of the natural host. The effects observed could reflect the sickness behaviour due to the infection or they could be a consequence of a manipulation of the host behaviour by the bacteria.

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Series: Proceedings of the Royal Society. B, Biological sciences
ISSN: 0962-8452
ISSN-E: 1471-2954
ISSN-L: 0962-8452
Volume: 285
Issue: 1884
Article number: 20181056
DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2018.1056
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This project was supported by the Kone Foundation, the University of Jyväskylä and the Academy of Finland (250524, 310104 (E.R.K.), 257340 (E.K.) and 132190, 268670 (T.M.))
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 310104
Detailed Information: 310104 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2018 The Author(s). Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved. Published in this repository with the kind permission of the publisher.