Infection reduces anti-predator behaviors in house finches
- JS Adelman, C Mayer, DM. Hawley
- J Avian Biol 48:001–010
Mycoplasma gallisepticum, known primarily as a respiratory pathogen of domestic poultry, has emerged since 1994 as a significant pathogen of the house finch (Haemorhousmexicanus) causing severe conjunctivitis and mortality. House finch-associated M. gallisepticum (HFMG) spread rapidly and increased in virulence for the finch host in the eastern United States. In the current study, we assessed virulence in domestic poultry with two temporally distant, and yet geographically consistent, HFMG isolates which differ in virulence for house finches-Virginia 1994 (VA1994), the index isolate of the epidemic, and Virginia 2013 (VA2013), a recent isolate of increased house finch virulence. Here we report a significant difference between VA1994 and VA2013 in their levels of virulence for chickens; notably, this difference correlated inversely to the difference in their levels of virulence for house finches. VA1994, while moderately virulent in house finches, displayed significant virulence in the chicken respiratory tract. VA2013, while highly virulent in the house finch, was significantly attenuated in chickens relative to VA1994, displaying less-severe pathological lesions in, and reduced bacterial recovery from, the respiratory tract. Overall, these data indicate that a recent isolate of HFMG is greatly attenuated in the chicken host relative to the index isolate, notably demonstrating a virulence phenotype in chickens inversely related to that in the finch host.