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Article

Parasite Presence Induces Gene Expression Changes in an Ant Host Related to Immunity and Longevity

1
Institute of Organismic and Molecular Evolution, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, 55128 Mainz, Germany
2
Max Planck Institute for the Biology of Ageing, 50931 Cologne, Germany
3
Institute for Molecular Biology, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, 55128 Mainz, Germany
4
Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity, University of Münster, 48149 Münster, Germany
5
Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Center (SBiK-F), Molecular Ecology, 60325 Frankfurt, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Genes 2021, 12(1), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes12010095
Received: 24 November 2020 / Revised: 22 December 2020 / Accepted: 12 January 2021 / Published: 13 January 2021
Most species are either parasites or exploited by parasites, making parasite–host interactions a driver of evolution. Parasites with complex life cycles often evolve strategies to facilitate transmission to the definitive host by manipulating their intermediate host. Such manipulations could explain phenotypic changes in the ant Temnothorax nylanderi, the intermediate host of the cestode Anomotaenia brevis. In addition to behavioral and morphological alterations, infected workers exhibit prolonged lifespans, comparable to that of queens, which live up to two decades. We used transcriptomic data from cestodes and ants of different castes and infection status to investigate the molecular underpinnings of phenotypic alterations in infected workers and explored whether the extended lifespan of queens and infected workers has a common molecular basis. Infected workers and queens commonly upregulated only six genes, one of them with a known anti-aging function. Both groups overexpressed immune genes, although not the same ones. Our findings suggest that the lifespan extension of infected workers is not achieved via the expression of queen-specific genes. The analysis of the cestodes’ transcriptome revealed dominant expression of genes of the mitochondrial respiratory transport chain, which indicates an active metabolism and shedding light on the physiology of the parasite in its cysticercoid stage. View Full-Text
Keywords: host lifespan; transcriptomics; host–parasite interaction; Temnothorax nylanderi; Anomotaenia brevis; extended phenotype; Hymenoptera host lifespan; transcriptomics; host–parasite interaction; Temnothorax nylanderi; Anomotaenia brevis; extended phenotype; Hymenoptera
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MDPI and ACS Style

Stoldt, M.; Klein, L.; Beros, S.; Butter, F.; Jongepier, E.; Feldmeyer, B.; Foitzik, S. Parasite Presence Induces Gene Expression Changes in an Ant Host Related to Immunity and Longevity. Genes 2021, 12, 95. https://doi.org/10.3390/genes12010095

AMA Style

Stoldt M, Klein L, Beros S, Butter F, Jongepier E, Feldmeyer B, Foitzik S. Parasite Presence Induces Gene Expression Changes in an Ant Host Related to Immunity and Longevity. Genes. 2021; 12(1):95. https://doi.org/10.3390/genes12010095

Chicago/Turabian Style

Stoldt, Marah, Linda Klein, Sara Beros, Falk Butter, Evelien Jongepier, Barbara Feldmeyer, and Susanne Foitzik. 2021. "Parasite Presence Induces Gene Expression Changes in an Ant Host Related to Immunity and Longevity" Genes 12, no. 1: 95. https://doi.org/10.3390/genes12010095

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