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Plagiorchis elegans from cercariae to infective metacercariae : factors affecting transmission, requirements for development, and behavioural responses of intermediate hosts to infection

McGill University
Publication Date
  • Plagiorchiidae.
  • Aedes Aegypti -- Parasites.
  • Metacercaria.


Plagiorchis elegans is a typical digenean parasite that cycles through aquatic molluscs and insects as intermediate hosts. During emergence of P. elegans cercariae, infected snails moved to the top of the water column where they remained immobile for 2-3h. Consequently, the cercariae formed a dense cloud which dispersed slowly. The infectivity of cercariae was $<$20% upon emergence and peaked at 76% 4-6h later. This delay in reaching maximum infectivity may be an adaptation to prevent superinfection and the associated mortality of insect hosts. Cercariae transformed into metacercariae after penetrating Aedes aegypti larvae, the experimental insect host. Overall development of metacercariae, and excystment of infective metacercariae in vitro, was temperature dependent. However, there was an initial 8-hour period of obligatory host-parasite contact that was temperature independent. This may represent a period of major nutrient acquisition since young metacercariae were more active metabolically than older metacercariae, as measured by the in vitro uptake of $ sp3$H-glucosamine and $ sp3$H-leucine. Mosquitoes may have mechanisms to reduce losses of larvae to parasites. Oviposition by adult A. aegypti was reduced in waters that had previously contained P. elegans-infected larvae. We propose that this selective oviposition was due to the production of an oviposition deterrent compound produced by parasitized larvae that serves to reduce oviposition in sites detrimental to larval development.

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