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Restless nights when sick: ectoparasite infections alter rest-activity cycles of diurnal fish hosts

Arapi, Elissavet A., Reynolds, Mike ORCID:, Ellison, Amy R. and Cable, Jo ORCID: 2024. Restless nights when sick: ectoparasite infections alter rest-activity cycles of diurnal fish hosts. Parasitology 151 (3) , pp. 251-259. 10.1017/S0031182023001324

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Circadian rhythms are timekeeping mechanisms responsible for an array of biological processes. Disruption of such cycles can detrimentally affect animal health. Circadian rhythms are critical in the co-evolution of host–parasite systems, as synchronization of parasite rhythms to the host can influence infection dynamics and transmission potential. This study examines the circadian rhythms in behaviour and activity of a model fish species (Poecilia reticulata) in isolation and in shoals, both when uninfected and infected with an ectoparasite (Gyrodactylus turnbulli). Additionally, the rhythmical variance of parasite activity under different light conditions as well as rhythmical variance in parasite transmissibility was explored. Overall, infection alters the circadian rhythm of fish, causing nocturnal restlessness. Increased activity of gyrodactylids on the host's skin at night could potentially contribute to this elevated host activity. Whilst migration of gyrodactylids across the host's skin may have caused irritation to the host resulting in nocturnal restlessness, the disruption in guppy activity rhythm caused by the expression of host innate immunity cannot be excluded. We discuss the wider repercussions such behavioural responses to infection have for host health, the implications for animal behaviour studies of diurnal species as well as the application of chronotherapeutic approaches to aquaculture.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 0031-1820
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 18 December 2023
Date of Acceptance: 13 December 2023
Last Modified: 14 May 2024 11:08

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