Fever and phenotype: Transgenerational effect of disease on desert locust phase state.
Natural enemy attack can cause transgenerational shifts in phenotype such that offspring are less vulnerable to future attack. Desert locusts (Schistocerca gregaria) show density-dependent variation in their resistance to pathogens, such that they are less vulnerable to pathogens when in the high-density gregarious phase state (when they would probably be more exposed to pathogens) than when in the solitarious phase state. We therefore hypothesized that infected gregarious parents would maintain this phenotype in their offspring. We infected gregarious desert locust nymphs with the fungal pathogen Metarhizium anisopliae var. acridum, and allowed them to survive to reproduction by means of behavioural fever. The phase state of the locust offspring was assessed by their colouration and behavioural assays. Contrary to our hypothesis, we found an increase in solitarization in the infected population (14.6% solitarious offspring from infected parents, vs.
Ecology Letters, 6 (9) 830-836. [DOI: 10.1046/j.1461-0248.2003.00487.x]