Accumulation and exchange of parasites during adaptive radiation in an ancient lake

Joseph Ironside, Toby Wilkinson

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In the ancient Lake Baikal, amphipod crustaceans have undergone a spectacular adaptive radiation, resulting in a diverse community of species. A survey of microsporidian parasites inhabiting endemic and non-endemic amphipod host species at Lake Baikal’s margins indicates that the endemic amphipods harbour many microsporidian parasite groups associated with amphipods elsewhere in Eurasia. While these parasites may have undergone a degree of adaptive radiation within the lake, there is little evidence of host specificity. Furthermore, a lack of reciprocal monophyly indicates that exchanges of microsporidia between Baikalian and non-Baikalian hosts have occurred frequently in the past and may be ongoing. Conversely, limitations to parasite exchange between Baikalian and non-Baikalian host populations at the margins of the lake are implied by differences in parasite prevalence and lack of shared microsporidian haplotypes between the two host communities. While amphipod hosts have speciated sympatrically within Lake Baikal, the parasites appear instead to have accumulated, moving into the lake from external amphipod populations on multiple occasions to exploit Baikal’s large and diverse community of endemic amphipods.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-307
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology
Issue number3-4
Early online date20 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2018


  • Lake Baikal
  • amphipod
  • microsporidia
  • adaptive radiation
  • parasite


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