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Investigating Macro- and Microparasite Coinfection Dynamics in White-Footed Mice (Peromyscus leucopus)

Weaver, Zoe (2023) Investigating Macro- and Microparasite Coinfection Dynamics in White-Footed Mice (Peromyscus leucopus). Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Coinfections in both humans and animals can lead to changes in the duration of infection, susceptibility to other parasites, and may affect the host’s symptoms and treatment effectiveness. Infection with a macroparasite may allow for the establishment of microparasites due to an elicited immune response. Therefore, investigating the inhibitory or facilitative responses to macro- and microparasite infection in hosts is important for understanding host and community-wide health in natural populations. Variations in mammalian diversity play a role in parasitic abundance and persistence. This can be shown as an inverse relationship between human health and biodiversity. Each section of the digestive tract of white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) were individually analyzed to identify the presence of macroparasites. PCR was then performed to identify each macroparasite to the species level. For microparasite identification, DNA was extracted from the collected ear tissue samples. Genomic DNA samples were then screened for the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi using a specific real-time quantitative PCR. Our findings showed no significant correlation between coinfection and a macroparasite only infection along with male and female mice infected with a macroparasite from either of the two sites. Our data suggests that there are substantial differences in geographical locations in terms of infection with or without a parasite, macroparasite infection, and B. burgdorferi infection. We found a significant difference in mice infected with only B. burgdorferi between the two geographical locations. In terms of seasonal variation, no significant differences were observed between the collection months in either site for any of the infection groups. Examining coinfection of helminths and B. burgdorferi in natural rodent populations has shown that infection with a macroparasite may not lead to coinfection of a microparasites. This study demonstrates that seasonal variation and sex did not influence coinfection in P. leucopus, contrary to previous findings. However, this study does support previous research suggesting that variation in mammalian diversity plays a role in parasitic abundance and persistence. Further research into multiple parasitic infections and their influence on their host is needed to better understand the influence on natural populations and how human health and disease risk are affected.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Weaver, Zoezow9@pitt.eduzow90009-0006-6059-2513
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis AdvisorTufts, Danielle M.dmt80@pitt.edudmt80
Committee MemberMattila, Joshua T.jmattila@pitt.edujmattila
Committee MemberStephenson, Jessica F.jess.stephenson@pitt.edujess.stephenson
Date: 11 May 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 12 April 2023
Approval Date: 11 May 2023
Submission Date: 28 April 2023
Access Restriction: 1 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 1 year.
Number of Pages: 46
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Infectious Diseases and Microbiology
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Borrelia burgdorferi, coinfection, macroparasite, microparasite, dilution effect, macro- and microparasite interaction, Lyme disease
Date Deposited: 11 May 2023 16:49
Last Modified: 11 May 2024 05:15


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