Transcriptomic Adjustments in a Freshwater Ectoparasite Reveal the Role of Molecular Plasticity for Parasite Host Shift

Type Article
Date 2022-03
Language English
Author(s) Mathieu-Bégné EglantineORCID1, 2, 3, Blanchet SimonORCID1, 2, Mitta GuillaumeORCID4, Le Potier Clément1, Loot Géraldine1, 5, Rey Olivier3
Affiliation(s) 1 : Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité Biologique (UMR5174), Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Centre National pour la Recherche Scientifique, Université Paul Sabatier, 118 Route de Narbonne, F-31062 Toulouse, France
2 : Station d’Ecologie Théorique et Expérimentale (UPR 2001), Centre National pour la Recherche Scientifique, 2 Route du CNRS, F-09200 Moulis, France
3 : Interactions Hôtes-Pathogènes-Environnement (UMR5244 IHPE), CNRS, Université de Montpellier, Ifremer, Université de Perpignan Via Domitia, F-66000 Perpignan, France
4 : UMR EIO, ILM, IRD, Ifremer, University Polynesie Francaise, Taravao F-98719, Tahiti, French Polynesia
5 : Institut Universitaire de France, Université Paul Sabatier, CEDEX 05, F-75231 Paris, France
Source Genes (2073-4425) (MDPI AG), 2022-03 , Vol. 13 , N. 3 , P. 525 (10p.)
DOI 10.3390/genes13030525
Keyword(s) plasticity, gene expression, host shift, parasite specificity, emerging parasites, rapid adaptation

A parasite’s lifestyle is characterized by a critical dependency on its host for feeding, shelter and/or reproduction. The ability of parasites to exploit new host species can reduce the risk associated with host dependency. The number of host species that can be infected by parasites strongly affects their ecological and evolutionary dynamics along with their pathogenic effects on host communities. However, little is known about the processes and the pathways permitting parasites to successfully infect alternative host species, a process known as host shift. Here, we tested whether molecular plasticity changes in gene expression and in molecular pathways could favor host shift in parasites. Focusing on an invasive parasite, Tracheliastes polycolpus, infecting freshwater fish, we conducted a transcriptomic study to compare gene expression in parasites infecting their main host species and two alternative host species. We found 120 significant differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between parasites infecting the different host species. A total of 90% of the DEGs were identified between parasites using the main host species and those using the two alternative host species. Only a few significant DEGs (seven) were identified when comparing parasites from the two alternative host species. Molecular pathways enriched in DEGs and associated with the use of alternative host species were related to cellular machinery, energetic metabolism, muscle activity and oxidative stress. This study strongly suggests that molecular plasticity is an important mechanism sustaining the parasite’s ability to infect alternative hosts.

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Mathieu-Bégné Eglantine, Blanchet Simon, Mitta Guillaume, Le Potier Clément, Loot Géraldine, Rey Olivier (2022). Transcriptomic Adjustments in a Freshwater Ectoparasite Reveal the Role of Molecular Plasticity for Parasite Host Shift. Genes, 13(3), 525 (10p.). Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :