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Chemical host detection and differential attraction in a parasitic pea crab infecting two echinoids
De Bruyn, C.; De Ridder, C.; Rigaud, T.; David, B. (2011). Chemical host detection and differential attraction in a parasitic pea crab infecting two echinoids. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 397(2): 173-178.
In: Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. Elsevier: New York. ISSN 0022-0981, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 279953 [ OMA ]

    Dissodactylus primitivus Bouvier, 1917 [WoRMS]; Echinoidea [WoRMS]; Marine
Author keywords
    Chemical detection; Echinoid; Host-switching; Imprinting; Parasite; Pea

Authors  Top 
  • De Bruyn, C., more
  • De Ridder, C., more
  • Rigaud, T.
  • David, B.

    Mechanisms of host detection and host choice are important for mobile parasites or symbionts that frequently move among host individuals. The parasitic pea crab Dissodactylus primitivus is an ectoparasite exploiting asymmetrically two spatangoid echinoid hosts, Meoma ventricosa and Plagiobrissus grandis. The entire life cycle takes place on M. ventricosa, while only adults colonize P. grandis, the host where female's fecundity is the greatest. Dissodactylus primitivus frequently exhibits host-switching, a behaviour that raises the question of host detection. To test if adult crabs are able to detect potential hosts and are attracted to the host where their fitness is greater, crab olfactory responses were investigated using a Y-tube. We first showed that D. primitivus are attracted by olfactory cues of M. ventricosa, versus those of a non-host echinoid species, Clypeaster rosaceus sharing the same habitat. This attractiveness was not due to a yellowish water-soluble substance secreted by the host. We then showed that the chemical attraction to the two hosts was different according to the origin of the crabs. Crabs coming from M. ventricosa were more attracted to this host than to P. grandis, a pattern compatible with an imprinting phenomenon. However, crabs collected from P. grandis were equally attracted to both host species, as if imprinting was lost after host change. We propose that the pattern of D. primitivus host detection could be intermediate between the behaviour of specialist and generalist symbionts.

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