Published online by Cambridge University Press: 21 January 2009
Individual animals are often infected not only by different parasite species, but also by multiple genotypes of the same parasite species. Genetic relatedness among parasites sharing a host is expected to modulate their strategies of resource exploitation, growth and virulence. We experimentally examined the effects that genetic diversity and infection intensity had on host mortality, infectivity and growth of the marine trematode Maritrema novaezealandensis in amphipod hosts. The presence of 2 versus 1 parasite genotype during infection did not influence subsequent host mortality, had different effects on infectivity among genotypes and did not influence growth or variation in parasite growth. Density-dependent growth reductions revealed that the number of parasites infecting a host was more important than their genetic relatedness. Temperature, host size, and host sex influenced the degree to which density-dependent factors affected parasite growth. Our results suggest that the effects of parasite relatedness vary among parasite genotypes in this trematode species, and reveal that many factors play an important role during parasite development and transmission.