To study the interplay between parasitism and intraspecific competition, Bedhomme et al. worked with the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti and its natural enemy, the single-celled parasite Vavraia culicis. They divided recently hatched mosquito larvae into groups of 60 larvae, and exposed half of the groups to the parasite. Larvae were then placed two by two into vials. Vials contained either two uninfected larvae, two infected larvae, or one infected and one uninfected individual. Infected pairs took longer to develop than uninfected pairs, as expected. But with infected and uninfected pairs, infected larvae took longer to develop than their healthy partners, meaning they are more likely to succumb to the parasite. Competing against a healthy partner increased virulence by increasing development time. Interestingly, however, infected mosquitoes also fared better when paired with an infected competitor.
These results suggest that a high incidence, or pre
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