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Costly parasite resistance: a genotype-dependent handicap in sand lizards?


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Olsson, M, Wapstra, E, Madsen, T, Ujvari, B and Rugfelt, C 2005 , 'Costly parasite resistance: a genotype-dependent handicap in sand lizards?' , Biology Letters, vol. 1 , pp. 375-377 , doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2005.0339.

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Male sand lizards (Lacerta agilis) with a specific
restriction fragment length polymorphism fragment
in their major histocompatibility complex
(MHC) genotype (‘O-males’) are more resistant
to ectoparasites (a tick, Ixodes ricinus) than are
males that lack this fragment (‘NO-males’).
However, emerging evidence suggests that
such adaptive immune responses are costly,
here manifested by reduced body condition and
a compromised defence against secondary infections
by haemoprotid parasites that use the
ticks as vectors. Subsequent to tick encounter,
O-males suffer from a higher leucocyte–erythrocyte
ratio, and higher haemoprotid parasitaemia,
in particular in relation to vector encounter
rate. Furthermore, O-males (i.e. successful tick
defenders) with more haemoprotid parasites
remaining in their blood stream were in better
body condition, whereas this did not apply
in NO-males, demonstrating that the adaptive
immunoreaction can—in the short term—be
energetically even more costly than being moderately
parasitized. In agreement with Zahavian
handicap theory, O-males had a (marginally)
higher reproductive success than males that
lacked this fragment.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Olsson, M and Wapstra, E and Madsen, T and Ujvari, B and Rugfelt, C
Keywords: MHC; costly parasite resistance; handicap; sand lizard
Journal or Publication Title: Biology Letters
ISSN: 1744-9561
DOI / ID Number: 10.1098/rsbl.2005.0339
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