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By Megan Killip, Biological Medical Sciences
Advisor: George Uetz
Presentation ID: PM_ATRIUM31
Abstract: Pathogens and parasites are abundant in nature, forcing those who have been infected to allocate their energetic resources toward eradicating the infection. In the brush-legged wolf spider, Schizocosa ocreata, previous studies have shown that infection in the penultimate instar (i.e., the juvenile stage before maturity) can influence development of secondary sexual characteristics of males (e.g. tuft size) used as criteria for mate choice by females. Studies have also shown that male infection be sensed through chemical cues found in silk. While influence of infection has been studied with regard to males, the effects of infection in females has not yet been examined in depth. The goal of our study was to observe how infection at the penultimate stage in females influences mate choice between an infected or healthy male. Females were infected with orally-ingested Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a common pathogen of spiders, at the penultimate stage and given a choice between an infected or noninfected male at the adult stage. Courtship vigor of males, female receptivity, and mating success were all scored. The results based on these analyses will be presented and will help determine whether female infection status affects their mate choice when presented a choice between an uninfected and infected male.