Gametocyte sex ratio of the malaria parasite Plasmodium mexicanum is variable in its host, the western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis), both among infections and within infections over time. We sought to determine the effect of host physiological quality on the gametocyte sex ratio in experimentally induced infections of P. mexicanum. Adult male lizards were assigned to 4 treatment groups: castrated, castrated + testosterone implant, sham implant, and unmanipulated control. No significant difference in gametocyte sex ratio was found among the 4 treatment groups. Two other analyses were performed. A surgery stress analysis compared infection sex ratio of castrated, castrated + testosterone implant, and sham implant groups with the unmanipulated control group. A testosterone alteration analysis compared infection sex ratio of the castrated and castrated + testosterone implant groups with the sham implant and unmanipulated control groups. Again, no significant difference was observed for these 2 comparisons. Thus, physiological changes expected for experimentally induced variation in host testosterone and the stress of surgery were not associated with any change in the gametocyte sex ratio. Also, the experiment suggests testosterone is not a cue for shaping the sex ratio of gametocytes in P. mexicanum. These results are related to the evolutionary theory of sex ratios as applied to malaria parasites.

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