Bayesian paternity analysis and mating patterns in a parasitic nematode, Trichostrongylus tenuis

P. C. D. Johnson, J. D. Hadfield, L. M. I. Webster, A. Adam, B. K. Mable, L. F. Keller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mating behaviour is a fundamental aspect of the evolutionary ecology of sexually reproducing species, but one that has been under-researched in parasitic nematodes. We analysed mating behaviour in the parasitic nematode Trichostrongylus tenuis by performing a paternity analysis in a population from a single red grouse host. Paternity of the 150 larval offspring of 25 mothers (sampled from one of the two host caeca) was assigned among 294 candidate fathers (sampled from both caeca). Each candidate father's probability of paternity of each offspring was estimated from 10-locus microsatellite genotypes. Seventy-six (51%) offspring were assigned a father with a probability of 40.8, and the estimated number of unsampled males was 136 (95% credible interval (CI) 77-219). The probability of a male from one caecum fathering an offspring in the other caecum was estimated as 0.024 (95% CI 0.003-0.077), indicating that the junction of the caeca is a strong barrier to dispersal. Levels of promiscuity (defined as the probability of two of an adult's offspring sharing only one parent) were high for both sexes. Variance in male reproductive success was moderately high, possibly because of a combination of random mating and high variance in post-copulatory reproductive success. These results provide the first data on individual mating behaviour among parasitic nematodes. Heredity (2010) 104, 573-582; doi: 10.1038/hdy.2009.139; published online 14 October 2009

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-582
Number of pages10
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


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