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  1. Lutermann, Heike (Ed.)
    Some animals react to predation threats or other stressors by adopting a freezing posture in an attempt to avoid detection, and the duration of this behavior usually corresponds with individual personality, such that timid individuals freeze longer. Despite decades of research on this or related behaviors (thanatosis), never has the impact of parasitism been considered. Parasites could prolong the duration, if hosts are less motivated to move (i.e. lethargic), or they could reduce it, if hosts are motivated to forage more to compensate for energy drain. We examined this behavior within a natural beetle-nematode system, where hosts (horned passalus beetles, Odontotaenius disjunctus ) are parasitized by a nematode, Chondronema passali . We exposed beetles (n = 238) to four stressors in our lab, including noise, vibration, light and inversion, and recorded how long they adopt a frozen stance. Afterward, we determined nematode burdens, which can range from dozens to hundreds of worms. Beetles tended to freeze for 20 seconds on average, with some variation between stressors. We detected no effect of beetle mass on the duration of freezing, and this behavior did not differ in beetles collected during the breeding or non-breeding season. There was a surprising sex-based difference in the impact of nematodes; unparasitized females remained frozen twice as long as unparasitized males, but for beetles with heavy nematode burdens, the opposite was true. From this we infer that heavily parasitized females are more bold, while males with heavy burdens would be more timid. The explanation for this finding remains elusive, though we can rule out many possibilities based on prior work on this host-parasite system. 
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  2. Riley, Steven (Ed.)
    Historically, emerging and reemerging infectious diseases have caused large, deadly, and expensive multinational outbreaks. Often outbreak investigations aim to identify who infected whom by reconstructing the outbreak transmission tree, which visualizes transmission between individuals as a network with nodes representing individuals and branches representing transmission from person to person. We compiled a database, called OutbreakTrees, of 382 published, standardized transmission trees consisting of 16 directly transmitted diseases ranging in size from 2 to 286 cases. For each tree and disease, we calculated several key statistics, such as tree size, average number of secondary infections, the dispersion parameter, and the proportion of cases considered superspreaders, and examined how these statistics varied over the course of each outbreak and under different assumptions about the completeness of outbreak investigations. We demonstrated the potential utility of the database through 2 short analyses addressing questions about superspreader epidemiology for a variety of diseases, including Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). First, we found that our transmission trees were consistent with theory predicting that intermediate dispersion parameters give rise to the highest proportion of cases causing superspreading events. Additionally, we investigated patterns in how superspreaders are infected. Across trees with more than 1 superspreader, we found preliminary support for the theory that superspreaders generate other superspreaders. In sum, our findings put the role of superspreading in COVID-19 transmission in perspective with that of other diseases and suggest an approach to further research regarding the generation of superspreaders. These data have been made openly available to encourage reuse and further scientific inquiry. 
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  3. Brunet, Johanne (Ed.)
    Abstract Honey bees (Apis mellifera L. Hymeoptera: Apidae) use hydrogen peroxide (synthesized by excreted glucose oxidase) as an important component of social immunity. However, both tolerance of hydrogen peroxide and the production of glucose oxidase in honey is costly. Hydrogen peroxide may also be encountered by honey bees at high concentrations in nectar while foraging, however despite its presence both in their foraged and stored foods, it is unclear if and how bees monitor concentrations of, and their behavioral responses to, hydrogen peroxide. The costs of glucose oxidase production and the presence of hydrogen peroxide in both nectar and honey suggest hypotheses that honey bees preferentially forage on hydrogen peroxide supplemented feed syrups at certain concentrations, and avoid feed syrups supplemented with hydrogen peroxide at concentrations above some tolerance threshold. We test these hypotheses and find that, counter to expectation, honey bees avoid glucose solutions supplemented with field-relevant hydrogen peroxide concentrations and either avoid or don’t differentiate supplemented sucrose solutions when given choice assays. This is despite honey bees showing high tolerance for hydrogen peroxide in feed solutions, with no elevated mortality until concentrations of hydrogen peroxide exceed 1% (v/v) in solution, with survival apparent even at concentrations up to 10%. The behavioral interaction of honey bees with hydrogen peroxide during both within-colony synthesis in honey and when foraging on nectar therefore likely relies on interactions with other indicator molecules, and maybe constrained evolutionarily in its plasticity, representing a constitutive immune mechanism. 
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  4. Reptile-associated human salmonellosis cases have increased recently in the United States. It is not uncommon to find healthy chelonians shedding Salmonella enterica . The rate and frequency of bacterial shedding are not fully understood, and most studies have focused on captive vs. free-living chelonians and often in relation to an outbreak. Their ecology and significance as sentinels are important to understanding Salmonella transmission. In 2012–2013, Salmonella prevalence was determined for free-living aquatic turtles in man-made ponds in Clarke and Oconee Counties, in northern Georgia (USA) and the correlation between species, basking ecology, demographics (age/sex), season, or landcover with prevalence was assessed. The genetic relatedness between turtle and archived, human isolates, as well as, other archived animal and water isolates reported from this study area was examined. Salmonella was isolated from 45 of 194 turtles (23.2%, range 14–100%) across six species. Prevalence was higher in juveniles (36%) than adults (20%), higher in females (33%) than males (18%), and higher in bottom-dwelling species (31%; common and loggerhead musk turtles, common snapping turtles) than basking species (15%; sliders, painted turtles). Salmonella prevalence decreased as forest cover, canopy cover, and distance from roads increased. Prevalence was also higher in low-density, residential areas that have 20–49% impervious surface. A total of 9 different serovars of two subspecies were isolated including 3 S. enterica subsp. arizonae and 44 S. enterica subsp. enterica (two turtles had two serotypes isolated from each). Among the S. enterica serovars, Montevideo ( n = 13) and Rubislaw ( n = 11) were predominant. Salmonella serovars Muenchen, Newport, Mississippi, Inverness, Brazil, and Paratyphi B. var L(+) tartrate positive (Java) were also isolated. Importantly, 85% of the turtle isolates matched pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns of human isolates, including those reported from Georgia. Collectively, these results suggest that turtles accumulate Salmonella present in water bodies, and they may be effective sentinels of environmental contamination. Ultimately, the Salmonella prevalence rates in wild aquatic turtles, especially those strains shared with humans, highlight a significant public health concern. 
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  5. How and to what degree an animal deals with potential threats is a fascinating topic that has been well-researched, particularly in insects, though usually not with the impact of parasites in mind. A growing body of work is showing how even benign parasites can affect, positively or negatively, their hosts’ physiological or behavioral reaction to threats. With this in mind we conducted an experiment using horned passalus beetles, Odontotaenius disjunctus that were naturally parasitized with a nematode Chondronema passali; we subjected beetles to simulated attacks (resembling rival fighting or predator attacks) and from videos of the encounters we quantified a suite of behaviors (antennae movement, aggressive posturing, threat displays, etc.), plus rates of alarm calls (stridulations) which all correspond to the “fight or flight” reaction. We obtained behavioral and parasite data from 140 beetles from two field collections, of which half had been housed in our lab for three weeks in conditions that would be stressful (little cover for burrowing). We observed a wide range of behaviors during the simulated attack procedure, from beetles offering little resistance to those which were extremely aggressive, though most beetles showed a moderate reaction. Alarm calling rates also varied, but surprisingly, these were not correlated with the magnitude of behavioral reactions. Also surprising was that stressful housing did not heighten the physical resistance during attacks, but did elevate alarm calling rate. Importantly, parasitized beetles had significantly reduced physical reactions to attack than those without nematodes (meaning their resistance to the attack was muted). The results concerning parasitism, coupled with prior work in our lab, indicate that the C. passali nematode depresses the hosts’ acute stress, or fight or flight, reaction (likely from its energetic cost), which may make hosts more susceptible to the very dangers that they are coping with during the stress events. 
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