Protozoan parasite toxoplasma gondii manipulates mate choice in rats by enhancing attractiveness of males
Dass, Shantala Arundathi Hari
Soh, Linda Jing Ting
Sapolsky, Robert M.
Date of Issue2011
School of Biological Sciences
Females in various species typically avoid males infected with parasites, while parasite-free males advertise their status through conspicuous phenotypic traits. This process selects for heritable resistance and reduces direct exposure of the female to parasites. Coevolving parasites are likely to attempt to circumvent this obstacle. In this paper, we demonstrate a case of parasitic manipulation of host mate choice. We report that Toxoplasma gondii, a sexually transmitted infection of brown rats, enhances sexual attractiveness of infected males. Thus under some evolutionary niches, parasites can indeed manipulate host sexual signaling to their own advantage.
© 2011 Dass et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.