Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

UnlabelledBackgroundThe chances of a schistosome cercaria encountering a suitable definitive host may be enhanced by emergence from the molluscan intermediate host with maximal glycogen stores and by an appropriate chronobiological rhythm. This study aimed to identify and characterize the effects of potential competitive interactions in the snail host Biomphalaria glabrata, between the closely-related Schistosoma mansoni and S. rodhaini, on phenotypic behavioural traits. It was predicted that inter-specific competition would affect chronobiological emergence rhythms and reduce the activity of schistosome swimming behavioural traits. Biomphalaria glabrata snails (120) were exposed to either S. mansoni or S. rodhaini single infections, or a mixed infection of both species simultaneously and the resulting cercarial phenotypic traits were characterised. Cercariae were identified from co-exposed snails by amplification and sequencing of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (CO1).ResultsS. mansoni and S. rodhaini largely maintained their distinct chronobiological rhythms after mixed exposures and infections. However, inter-specific competition appeared to result in a restriction of the shedding pattern of S. rodhaini and slight shift in the shedding pattern of S. mansoni. Inter-specific competition also significantly lowered hourly cercarial production for both parasite species in comparison to single exposures and infections and reduced cercarial swimming activity.ConclusionInter-specific competition was shown to influence cercarial production, chronobiology and activity and should therefore be investigated further in field situations to determine the effects of these changes on parasite fitness (incorporating both host finding and infectivity) where these two species overlap. Importantly this competition did not result in a large change in chronobiological emergence of cercariae for either species indicating that it would not have a large influence on the species of hosts available for infection at time of emergence. This study has furthermore demonstrated the potential for phenotypic measures to provide markers for species-specific identification even in conditions of co-infection.

Original publication




Journal article


Parasites & vectors

Publication Date





Wolfson Wellcome Biomedical Laboratories, Department of Zoology, The Natural History Museum, London, SW7 5BD, UK.