Data from: Apparent vector-mediated parent-to-offspring transmission in an avian malaria-like parasite
Chakarov, Nayden et al. (2015), Data from: Apparent vector-mediated parent-to-offspring transmission in an avian malaria-like parasite, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.s597d
Parasite transmission strategies strongly impact host–parasite co-evolution and virulence. However, studies of vector-borne parasites such as avian malaria have neglected the potential effects of host relatedness on the exchange of parasites. To test whether extended parental care in the presence of vectors increases the probability of transmission from parents to offspring, we used high-throughput sequencing to develop microsatellites for malaria-like Leucocytozoon parasites of a wild raptor population. We show that host siblings carry genetically more similar parasites than unrelated chicks both within and across years. Moreover, chicks of mothers of the same plumage morph carried more similar parasites than nestlings whose mothers were of different morphs, consistent with matrilineal transmission of morph-specific parasite strains. Ours is the first evidence of an association between host relatedness and parasite genetic similarity, consistent with vector-mediated parent-to-offspring transmission. The conditions for such ‘quasi-vertical’ transmission may be common and could suppress the evolution of pathogen virulence.