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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Viral infection changes the expression of personality traits in an insect species reared for consumption

Low, Matthew; Eksell, Isak; Jansson, Anna; Berggren, Asa


Disease-induced personality change results from endogenous and adaptive host responses or parasitic manipulation. Within animal husbandry systems understanding the connection between behaviour and disease is important for health monitoring and for designing systems considerate to animal welfare. However, understanding these relationships within insect mass-rearing systems is still in its infancy. We used a simple repeated behavioural-emergence test to examine parasite-induced differences in group personality traits in the house cricket Acheta domesticus, by comparing the behaviours of 37 individuals infected with the Acheta domesticus densovirus (AdDV) and 50 virus-free individuals. AdDV-infected animals had a much lower emergence probability, longer times until emergence, and did not change their behaviour with experience compared to the virus-free animals. AdDV-infected animals also had lower variation in their probability of emergence within the population, most likely related to animals displaying a relatively uniform sickness response. These infected animals also had higher variation in their response to experimental trial experience; this greater variation resulted from a difference between males and females. Infected females responded to experience in a similar way as virus-free animals, while AdDV-infected males showed a response to experience in the opposite direction: i.e., while all other groups reduced emergence time with experience, infected males always increased their mean emergence time as trials progressed. Our results are important not only in the context of animal personality research, but also with regards to creating husbandry systems and disease monitoring within the insects-as-food industry that are considerate to both production traits and animal welfare.

Published in

Scientific Reports
2022, Volume: 12, number: 1, article number: 9503