Schistosoma Mansoni Infection in Diapausing Biomphalaria Glabrata Snails: Studies of Temperature and Genetic Influences on Diapausing Behavior

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  • Biomedical Research Institute, Rockville, Maryland

Snails that are capable of undergoing diapause can circumvent unfavorable environmental conditions, including long periods of drought. Studies were performed to investigate possible temperature and/or genetic factors that may trigger lamella formation and diapausing behavior. The influence of diapause in Biomphalaria glabrata snails on susceptibility to Schistosoma mansoni infection and levels of cercarial production was also investigated. Rearing temperatures of 23°C or higher did not induce lamella formation or diapause, regardless of the parental phenotype. However, substantial percentages of progeny from lamellated or lamellated/diapausing parental snails developed lamellae at 18°C and underwent diapause. Only a small percentage of offspring from nonlamellated parents formed lamellae at this temperature. Juvenile snails exposed just prior to diapause, or immediately following a diapause period of three weeks, were highly susceptible to infection by S. mansoni miracidia. Snails that underwent diapause produced comparable or only slightly fewer cercariae than did nondiapausing snails. These studies indicate that diapause in B. glabrata does little to decrease a snail's ability to act as an intermediate host for S. mansoni or to interrupt the development of the parasite. For these reasons, we believe that greater attention should be given to diapausing snail populations when planning field surveys or mollusciding programs.