Microsporidian parasites feminise hosts without paramyxean co-infectionSupport for convergent evolution of parasitic feminisation

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Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-433
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology
Issue number6
Early online date04 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - May 2015
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Feminisation of amphipod crustaceans is associated with the presence of at least three microsporidian parasites and one paramyxean parasite, suggesting that the ability to feminise has evolved multiple times in parasites of amphipods. Co-infection by a paramyxean with one of the putative microsporidian feminisers, Dictyocoela duebenum, has inspired the alternative hypothesis that all feminisation of amphipods is caused by paramyxea and that all microsporidian associations with feminisation are due to co-infection with paramyxea (Short et al., 2012). In a population of the amphipod Gammarus duebeni, breeding experiments demonstrate that the microsporidia D. duebenum and Nosema granulosis are associated with feminisation in the absence of paramyxea. Co-infection of the two microsporidia is no more frequent than expected at random and each parasite is associated with feminisation in the absence of the other. These findings support the original hypothesis that the ability to feminise amphipods has evolved in microsporidia on multiple occasions. Additionally, the occurrence of a non-feminising strain of D. duebenum in Gammarus pulex suggests that different strains vary in their feminising ability, even within microsporidian species. The presence or absence of feminising ability in a particular microsporidian strain should not therefore be generalised to the species as a whole. (C) 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. on behalf of Australian Society for Parasitology Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).


  • convergent evolution, feminisation, microsporidian, paramyxean, amphipod