Evolutionary consequence of a change in life cycle complexity: A link between precocious development and evolution toward female-biased sex allocation in a hermaphroditic parasite. Academic Article uri icon


  • The evolutionary consequences of changes in the complex life cycles of parasites are not limited to the traits that directly affect transmission. For instance, mating systems that are altered due to precocious sexual maturation in what is typically regarded as an intermediate host may impact opportunities for outcrossing. In turn, reproductive traits may evolve to optimize sex allocation. Here, we test the hypothesis that sex allocation evolved toward a more female-biased function in populations of the hermaphroditic digenean trematode Alloglossidium progeneticum that can precociously reproduce in their second hosts. In these precocious populations, parasites are forced to self-fertilize as they remain encysted in their second hosts. In contrast, parasites in obligate three-host populations have more opportunities to outcross in their third host. We found strong support that in populations with precocious development, allocation to male resources was greatly reduced. We also identified a potential phenotypically plastic response in a body size sex allocation relationship that may be driven by the competition for mates. These results emphasize how changes in life cycle patterns that alter mating systems can impact the evolution of reproductive traits in parasites.

published proceedings

  • Evolution

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Kasl, E. L., McAllister, C. T., Robison, H. W., Connior, M. B., Font, W. F., & Criscione, C. D.

citation count

  • 5

complete list of authors

  • Kasl, Emily L||McAllister, Chris T||Robison, Henry W||Connior, Matthew B||Font, William F||Criscione, Charles D

publication date

  • November 2015