Competition for minerals between Acanthocephalus lucii and its definitive host perch (Perca fluviatilis).
Concentrations of various essential and toxic elements (Ba, Ca, Co, Cu, Fe, Mg, Mn, Sr, Zn and Al, Ag, Cd, Cr, Ni, Pb, Tl) were analysed by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry in the acanthocephalan Acanthocephalus lucii and in different tissues of its host Perca fluviatilis. Nearly all the elements were found in significantly higher concentrations in the acanthocephalan than in the host tissues. Spearman correlation analysis revealed several strong inter-element associations within the organs of perch and within the parasites. Furthermore, statistical analysis revealed different competitive interactions. The concentrations of several essential elements (Ba, Ca, Fe, Mn, Sr and Zn) within the parasites decreased with an increasing number or weight of worms inside the intestine of the host. Additionally, the levels of some elements in the perch liver were negatively correlated with the weight of A. lucii in the intestine. Thus, it emerged that not only is there competition for essential elements between acanthocephalans inside the gut but there is also competition for these elements between the host and its parasites.
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