The role of host sex in parasite dynamics: individual based model simulations of host-parasite interactions in a semi-enclosed embayment. 

Lourdes Velo Suarez1, Marc Arancio2 and Marc Sourisseau2, (1)Station Biologique de Roscoff - CNRS & UPMC, Roscoff, France, (2)IFREMER, Brest, France
Parasitic dinoflagellates of the genus Amoebophrya infect free-living dinoflagellates, some of which can cause harmful algal blooms (HABs). During a field study in Salt Pond (MA, USA), we found a significant influence of Amoebophrya spp. on populations of Alexandrium fundyense. Parasitism appeared to exhibit a significant top down influence on A. fundyense populations and a dramatic life-cycle transition from vegetative division to sexual fusion was recorded. Despite our intensive sampling in Salt Pond, host-parasite interactions were undersampled owing to the very short time scales relevant to host-Amoebophrya spp. dynamics. In the present work, we explored the role of sexual reproduction and excystment/encystment processes using an Individual Based Model (IBM). The model was parameterized using published data and laboratory experiments carried out to analyze Amoebophrya spp. functional response. Observed-simulated differences in host-parasite dynamics support the hypothesis of parasite-host simultaneous dormancy, and further excystment months later to propagate both species. Results suggest that coexistence of A. fundyense and Amoebophrya spp. and their annual persistence in Salt Pond might rely on a sexual response/encystment. Understanding host-parasite interactions and coexistence strategies will improve our knowledge of Alexandrium spp. blooms and assess the impact of parasites on natural plankton assemblages in coastal systems.