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

First molecular identification of Ascocotyle (Phagicola) longa in its first intermediate host the mud snail Heleobia australis

Pilar Alda, Nicolás Bonel, Carlos J. Panei, Néstor J. Cazzaniga and Sergio R. Martorelli
From the journal Acta Parasitologica


This is the first study that used species-specific DNA primers to confirm the presence of the heterophyid Ascocotyle (Phagicola) longa Ransom, 1920 in its first intermediate host. The larval stages (rediae and cercariae) of this parasite were morphologically and genetically identified in the gonad of the intertidal mud snail Heleobia australis (d’Orbigny, 1835) (Cochliopidae) in the Bahía Blanca estuary, Argentina. In addition, we asked whether the prevalence in H. australis varied between seasons. Mullets - the second intermediate host of this heterophyid - migrate in estuaries during the warmer seasons and it is expected that piscivorous birds and mammals - the definitive hosts - prey more intensively on this species at those times. Thus, the number of parasite eggs released into the tidal flat within their feces should be higher, thereby increasing the ingestion of the parasite by H. australis.We therefore expected a higher prevalence of A. (P.) longa in H. australis in the Bahía Blanca estuary during spring and summer than autumn and winter. We found that 16 out of 2,744 specimens of H. australis had been infected with A. (P.) longa (total prevalence of 0.58%). Nonetheless, the prevalence showed no significant variation between seasons. Hence, we discuss an alternative scenario where the lack of seasonal changes might be mostly related to the permanent residence of definitive hosts in the estuary and not to the seasonal recruitment of mullets. Finally, we highlight the need for more experimental and comparative approaches in order to understand the diagnosis and geographical distribution of this worldwide heterophyid.


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Received: 2015-2-9
Revised: 2015-3-20
Accepted: 2015-4-29
Published Online: 2015-9-25
Published in Print: 2015-12-1

W. Stefański Institute of Parasitology, PAS