The prevalence and persistence of sigma virus, a biparentally transmitted parasite of Drosophila melanogaster.
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QUESTION: How do vertically transmitted parasites persist? ORGANISMS: Drosophila melanogaster (host) and sigma virus (parasite). FIELD SITE: Peach stands in northern Georgia, USA, on a transect between Macon and Athens. EMPIRICAL METHODS: We estimated prevalence in the field. We also estimated male and female transmission in the laboratory, using field-collected animals as parents. We further quantified patrilineal (father to son) transmission in the laboratory, and estimated cost of infection (virulence) by quantifying decreased egg production of infected flies. MATHEMATICAL METHODS: Discrete-time, deterministic models for prevalence; analysis of stability of disease-free and endemic equilibria; numerical computation of equilibria based on empirical estimates. KEY ASSUMPTIONS: Random mating, discrete generations, cost of infection to females only. PREDICTIONS AND CONCLUSIONS: The model allows persistence under parameter estimates obtained for this population. Uncertainty in parameters leads to wide confidence intervals on the predicted prevalence, which may be systematically underestimated due to Jensen's inequality. Male transmission is required for persistence, and multiple generations of strictly patrilineal transmission are possible in the laboratory, albeit with decreasing transmission efficiency.
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