Determinants of virulence for the parasite Nosema whitei in its host Tribolium castaneum

Martin Blaser, Paul Schmid-Hempel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


For many parasites, especially those that obligately kill the host for transmission, host age is crucially important to determine success. Here, we have experimentally investigated this relationship with the microsporidian parasite, Nosema whitei, in its host, the Red Flour Beetle, Tribolium castaneum. We find that infection is only possible in young larvae and that spore load at the time of transmission (i.e., host death) correlates with host body size. The data suggested that an infection by N. whitei prolongs the life span of the infected larva and prevents them from pupation. Together, virulence to the host and success for the parasite is mainly determined by the host age at infection. The patterns are consistent with theoretical predictions for obligate killer parasites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-257
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Invertebrate Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2005
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


  • Age
  • Host life history
  • Longevity
  • Nosema whitei
  • Parasitism
  • Tribolium castaneum

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Determinants of virulence for the parasite Nosema whitei in its host Tribolium castaneum'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this