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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter September 25, 2015

Auto-infection by Echinostoma spp. cercariae in Helisoma anceps

Michael R. Zimmermann, Kyle E. Luth and Gerald W. Esch
From the journal Acta Parasitologica


Auto-infection is a life history strategy used by many parasitic organisms, including digenetic trematodes. The process of autoinfection most frequently involves the transfer of a life cycle stage of the parasite from one site to another inside the same host, usually accompanied by morphological transformation. Moreover, among trematodes, the stage being transferred may also move from one host to another in completing the life cycle, i.e., an indirect cycle. Echinostoma spp. parasites offer the opportunity to study auto-infection because they utilize gastropods as both first and second intermediate hosts. Rejection of a null model predicting independent infection of first and second intermediate larval stages coupled with the presence of rediae being the best predictor of metacercariae prevalence and intensity suggests that auto-infection by Echinostoma spp. cercariae is occurring in their molluscan hosts. Shell length was also found to be a significant predictor of metacercariae intensity in the snails hosts, but this is most likely attributed to larger snails being more commonly infected with Echinostoma spp. rediae as opposed to an increased likelihood of cercariae infection. Auto-infection as a life history strategy increases transmission success of the parasite, but may also have negative consequences for the parasite that necessitate auto-infection coupled with the release of cercariae to maximize transmission success and host survival.


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Received: 2015-4-12
Revised: 2015-5-11
Accepted: 2015-5-25
Published Online: 2015-9-25
Published in Print: 2015-12-1

W. Stefański Institute of Parasitology, PAS