Parasitic cuckoo catfish exploit parental responses to stray offspring

Polačik, M., Reichard, M., Smith, C. ORCID: 0000-0003-3285-0379 and Blažek, R., 2019. Parasitic cuckoo catfish exploit parental responses to stray offspring. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 374 (1769): 20180412. ISSN 0962-8436

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Abstract

Interspecific brood parasitism occurs in several independent lineages of birds and social insects, putatively evolving from intraspecific brood parasitism. The cuckoo catfish, Synodontis multipunctatus, the only known obligatory non-avian brood parasite, exploits mouthbrooding cichlid fishes in Lake Tanganyika, despite the absence of parental care in its evolutionary lineage (family Mochokidae). Cuckoo catfish participate in host spawning events, with their eggs subsequently collected and brooded by parental cichlids, though they can later be selectively rejected by the host. One scenario for the origin of brood parasitism in cuckoo catfish is through predation of cichlid eggs during spawning, eventually resulting in a spatial and temporal match in oviposition by host and parasite. Here we demonstrate experimentally that, uniquely among all known brood parasites, cuckoo catfish have the capacity to re-infect their hosts at a late developmental stage following egg rejection. We show that cuckoo catfish offspring can survive outside the host buccal cavity and re-infect parental hosts at a later incubation phase by exploiting the strong parental instinct of hosts to collect stray offspring. This finding implies an alternative evolutionary origin for cuckoo catfish brood parasitism, with the parental response of host cichlids facilitating its evolution.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Creators: Polačik, M., Reichard, M., Smith, C. and Blažek, R.
Publisher: The Royal Society Publishing
Date: 1 April 2019
Volume: 374
Number: 1769
ISSN: 0962-8436
Identifiers:
NumberType
10.1098/rstb.2018.0412DOI
30967084PubMed ID
Divisions: Schools > School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 12 Aug 2019 13:25
Last Modified: 12 Aug 2019 13:25
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/37233

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