Variation in parasite resistance of Arctic charr, Salvelinus alpinus, between and within sympatric morphs

Anssi Karvonen, Samantha V. Beck, Skúli Skúlason, Bjarni K. Kristjánsson, Camille A. Leblanc

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Genetic variation in resistance against parasite infections is a predominant feature in host–parasite systems. However, mechanisms maintaining genetic polymorphism in resistance in natural host populations are generally poorly known. We explored whether differences in natural infection pressure between resource-based morphs of Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) have resulted in differentiation in resistance profiles. We experimentally exposed offspring of two morphs from Lake Þingvallavatn (Iceland), the pelagic planktivorous charr (“murta”) and the large benthivorous charr (“kuðungableikja”), to their common parasite, eye fluke Diplostomum baeri, infecting the eye humor. We found that there were no differences in resistance between the morphs, but clear differences among families within each morph. Moreover, we found suggestive evidence of resistance of offspring within families being positively correlated with the parasite load of the father, but not with that of the mother. Our results suggest that the inherited basis of parasite resistance in this system is likely to be related to variation among host individuals within each morph rather than ecological factors driving divergent resistance profiles at morph level. Overall, this may have implications for evolution of resistance through processes such as sexual selection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14024-14032
Number of pages8
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


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