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In vitro encystment of Himasthla elongata cercariae (Digenea, Echinostomatidae) in the haemolymph of blue mussels Mytilus edulis as a tool for assessing cercarial infectivity and molluscan susceptibility

  • I.A. Levakin (a1), E.A. Losev (a2), K.E. Nikolaev (a3) and K.V. Galaktionov (a2) (a3)

Infectivity of Himasthla elongata cercariae to mussels, their second intermediate hosts, and resistance by these hosts to infection were assessed on the basis of the cercariae's ability to encyst in mussel haemolymph in vitro. A series of experimental in vivo infections of mussels with batches of cercariae, each batch released from a different single infected mollusc and referred to as a clone (due to their shared genotype), demonstrated that the results of the in vitro tests corresponded to the actual indices of infectivity/susceptibility of the parasites and their hosts. Most cercarial clones had high infectivity, with a few clones having very high or, at the other extreme, very low infectivity. A similar pattern was revealed in mussel resistance to cercarial infection. Most of the molluscs tested were moderately susceptible to cercarial infection, but at each extreme a small fraction (less than 10%) displayed very high or very low susceptibility. It was shown that there were no totally compatible or totally incompatible ‘cercaria clone/mussel’ combinations. Results obtained are compared with the data on intra-population variability using the characters parasite infectivity/host compatibility for trematode/mollusc–first intermediate host associations. Results are made relevant to actual infection levels in mussel settlements at the White Sea.

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Journal of Helminthology
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