First evidence for a possible invasional meltdown among invasive fish parasites

  • Biological invasions are frequently studied topics in ecological research. Unfortunately, within invasion ecology parasite-associated aspects such as parasite impacts on new environments and on local host populations are less well-studied. Round gobies migrating from the Ponto-Caspian region into the Rhine River system are heavily infested with the Ponto-Caspian acanthocephalan parasite Pomphorhynchus laevis. As shown by experimental infestations the acanthocephalans occur as pre-adults in host-encapsulated cysts within the internal organs of the migrating gobies, but remain infective for their definitive host chub. Recently, we described the occurrence of larvae of another parasite, the invasive eel swim bladder nematode Anguillicola crassus, in these Pomphorhynchus cysts. In the present study, we could prove the infectivity of the nematode larvae for European eels for the first time. After experimental inoculation of Pomphorhynchus cysts occasionally infested with A. crassus larvae, the nematodes grow to maturity and reproduce whereas all P. laevis were unviable. We therefore postulate that the nematode larvae behave like immunological hitchhikers that follow a “Trojan horse strategy” in order to avoid the paratenic host’s immune response. Accordingly, the interaction between both invasive parasites gives first evidence that the invasional meltdown hypothesis may also apply to parasites.

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Author:Michael Andreas Alfred Hohenadler, Katrin Isabel Honka, Sebastian Emde, Sven KlimpelORCiDGND, Bernd Sures
Pubmed Id:
Parent Title (English):Scientific reports
Publisher:Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature
Place of publication:[London]
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2018
Date of first Publication:2018/10/10
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2018/10/16
Tag:Freshwater ecology; Invasive species
Issue:1, Art. 15085
Page Number:5
First Page:1
Last Page:5
Rights and permissions: Open Access: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit
Institutes:Angeschlossene und kooperierende Institutionen / Senckenbergische Naturforschende Gesellschaft
Biowissenschaften / Institut für Ökologie, Evolution und Diversität
Fachübergreifende Einrichtungen / Biodiversität und Klima Forschungszentrum (BiK-F)
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 59 Tiere (Zoologie) / 590 Tiere (Zoologie)
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0