Original Article

Heredity (2010) 104, 573–582; doi:10.1038/hdy.2009.139; published online 14 October 2009

Bayesian paternity analysis and mating patterns in a parasitic nematode, Trichostrongylus tenuis

P C D Johnson1,2, J D Hadfield3, L M I Webster1,4, A Adam1, B K Mable1 and L F Keller1,5

  1. 1Division of Environmental and Evolutionary Biology, Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  2. 2Robertson Centre for Biostatistics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  3. 3Institute of Evolutionary Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  4. 4Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK
  5. 5Zoological Museum, University of Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland

Correspondence: Dr PCD Johnson, Robertson Centre for Biostatistics, Boyd Orr Building, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK. E-mail: paulj@stats.gla.ac.uk

Received 27 February 2009; Revised 23 June 2009; Accepted 7 August 2009; Published online 14 October 2009.



Mating behaviour is a fundamental aspect of the evolutionary ecology of sexually reproducing species, but one that has been under-researched in parasitic nematodes. We analysed mating behaviour in the parasitic nematode Trichostrongylus tenuis by performing a paternity analysis in a population from a single red grouse host. Paternity of the 150 larval offspring of 25 mothers (sampled from one of the two host caeca) was assigned among 294 candidate fathers (sampled from both caeca). Each candidate father's probability of paternity of each offspring was estimated from 10-locus microsatellite genotypes. Seventy-six (51%) offspring were assigned a father with a probability of >0.8, and the estimated number of unsampled males was 136 (95% credible interval (CI) 77–219). The probability of a male from one caecum fathering an offspring in the other caecum was estimated as 0.024 (95% CI 0.003–0.077), indicating that the junction of the caeca is a strong barrier to dispersal. Levels of promiscuity (defined as the probability of two of an adult's offspring sharing only one parent) were high for both sexes. Variance in male reproductive success was moderately high, possibly because of a combination of random mating and high variance in post-copulatory reproductive success. These results provide the first data on individual mating behaviour among parasitic nematodes.


parasitic nematodes; Trichostrongylus tenuis; paternity analysis; pedigree reconstruction; microsatellites; mating system



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