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Schistosoma mansoni and S. haematobium: miracidial host-finding behaviour is stimulated by macromolecules

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Haberl, B., Kalbe, M., Fuchs, H., Ströbel, M., Schmalfuss, G., & Haas, W. (1995). Schistosoma mansoni and S. haematobium: miracidial host-finding behaviour is stimulated by macromolecules. International Journal for Parasitology, 25(5), 551-560. doi:10.1016/0020-7519(94)00158-K.

The miracidia of Schistosoma mansoni and S. haematobium approach their host snails by increasing their rate of change of direction (RCD) in increasing gradients of snail-conditioned water (SCW), and they perform a turnback response in decreasing gradients. After contact with the host ''repeated investigation'' is the typical host-specific response. Both species show no significant directed chemotactical orientation towards their snail hosts. All three host-finding responses (increased RCD, turnback response, and ''repeated investigation'') seem to be stimulated in both species by a similar component of SCW, a macromolecular glycoconjugate with a molecular weight >30,000. The saccharide chains seem to be O-glycosidically linked via serine and N-acetylgalactosamine. The glycoconjugate is sensitive to lysozyme which may suggest that muramic acid as a gastropod-specific component is involved in the recognition process. Small molecular components of SCW, as well as magnesium chloride offered as pure chemical, may cause a moderate increase in the RCD. Therefore a minor contribution of these components to the host-finding response of schistosome miracidia cannot be excluded. That schistosome miracidia respond to complex macromolecules as host cues may indicate an adaptation to avoid interference of the host-finding with ubiquitous small molecular mud components and it might enable the miracidia to achieve a high degree of host-specificity in their host-finding.