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Infection intensity and infectivity of the tick-borne pathogen Borrelia afzelii.

Publiceringsår: 2012
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 1448-1453
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Volym: 25
Nummer: 7
Dokumenttyp: Artikel i tidskrift
Förlag: John Wiley & Sons


The 'trade-off' hypothesis for virulence evolution assumes that between-host transmission rate is a positive and saturating function of pathogen exploitation and virulence, but there are as yet few tests of this assumption, in particular for vector-borne pathogens. Here, I show that the infectivity (probability of transmission) of the tick-borne bacterium Borrelia afzelii from two of its natural rodent hosts (bank vole and yellow-necked mouse) to its main tick vector increases asymptotically with increasing exploitation (measured as bacterial load in skin biopsies). Hence, this result provides support for one of the basic assumptions of the 'trade-off hypothesis'. Moreover, there was no difference in infectivity between bank voles and yellow-necked mice despite bacterial loads being on average an order of magnitude higher in bank voles, most likely because ticks took larger blood meals from mice. This shows that interspecific variation in host resistance does not necessarily translate into a difference in infectivity.


  • Biological Sciences
  • Borrelia
  • host–parasite interactions
  • Lyme borreliosis
  • virulence
  • zoonotic disease


  • Borrelia in rodents
  • Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab
  • ISSN: 1420-9101

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