Internal Movement of Estuarine Digenetic Trematodes Through Their Intermediate Snail HostCerithidea californica

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Abstract

The ability of free-swimming larval parasites to control emergence from their hosts can be critical in increasing the chances of successful infection transmission. For a group of estuarine trematodes, emergence of cercariae from their snail hosts is known to match favorable temperature, tidal activity, and light intensity. How the larvae time this behavior is not well understood, but the pathway that the larvae take through their host may play a role. Through video and histological analysis, we were able to identify the snail's anus as the emergence point and the peri-intestinal sinus dorsal to the intestines as the route by which they reach that point. By moving through this open sinus, the larvae have an energetically efficient pathway to reach their emergence point while minimizing damage to the host. Most importantly, it allows control over emergence to be maintained by the parasite, not the host, thus increasing the chances of the larva successfully reaching its intended destination.

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