Premunition in Plasmodium spp. is the prevention of superinfection by novel genotypes entering an already established infection in a vertebrate host. Evidence for premunition was sought for the lizard malaria parasite, P. mexicanum, in its natural host, the fence lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis. Clonal diversity (= alleles for the haploid parasite) was determined with the use of 3 microsatellite markers. Both naturally infected lizards (N = 25) and previously noninfected lizards (N = 78) were inoculated intraperitoneally (IP) with blood from donor infections and followed over a 3-mo period. Compared to the success of clonal establishment in all the naive lizards (78/78 successful), clones entering preexisting infections had a significant disadvantage (9/25 successful). The number of preexisting clones (1-2 vs. 3-4) within recipient infections had no effect on the success of superinfection. Infections that excluded entering novel clones did not have higher initial asexual parasitemia, but had a higher initial density of gametocytes, suggesting they were older. Infections allowing superinfection experienced a higher final parasitemia.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics