How Different Parasites Affect Snail Genes and Lead to Reproductive Issues

Jim Crocker
18th June, 2024

How Different Parasites Affect Snail Genes and Lead to Reproductive Issues

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers at the University of New Mexico studied how Biomphalaria snails respond to parasitic infections, focusing on their immune and reproductive systems
  • The study found that specific immune-related genes in snails are activated when infected by the parasite Schistosoma mansoni
  • Parasitic infections can influence the reproductive processes of Biomphalaria snails, potentially disrupting the parasite's life cycle and reducing transmission to humans
Gastropods of the genus Biomphalaria play a crucial role as vectors for Schistosoma mansoni, the primary cause of human intestinal schistosomiasis, a disease affecting millions globally. Researchers at the University of New Mexico have leveraged advanced genomic resources to gain deeper insights into how Biomphalaria snails respond to S. mansoni and other parasitic challenges[1]. This study not only enhances our understanding of the snail's immune and reproductive systems but also opens avenues for innovative control strategies against schistosomiasis. The freshwater snail Biomphalaria glabrata is a well-studied intermediate host of S. mansoni. Previous research has provided substantial genomic data, such as the development of two homozygous B. glabrata lines (iM line and iBS90) with distinct resistance to schistosomes, and the construction of high-quality genome sequences for these lines[2]. These studies have identified quantitative trait loci (QTLs) involved in snail resistance and susceptibility, offering a foundation for understanding the genetic mechanisms underlying snail-parasite compatibility[2]. In another significant advancement, a chromosome-level assembled and annotated genome of the iM line of B. glabrata was developed, revealing detailed genomic structures and the organization of immune-related genes[3]. This resource has shown that Toll-like receptor (TLR) genes are dispersed across multiple chromosomes, while fibrinogen-related genes (FREPs) are predominantly clustered on chromosome 13. Such findings underscore the complexity of the snail's immune responses and the potential for specific immunity against parasites[3]. The current study builds on these genomic resources to explore how Biomphalaria snails respond to S. mansoni and other metazoan parasites. By utilizing the rich genomic data available, researchers have been able to dissect the snail's immune responses at a more granular level. This includes understanding the interactions between diversified FREPs and polymorphic parasite antigens, which are crucial for specific immune recognition and response[4]. One of the key findings of this study is the identification of specific immune pathways that are activated upon parasitic infection. The researchers have shown that certain immune-related genes, including those coding for FREPs and TLRs, are differentially expressed when the snails are challenged with S. mansoni. This differential gene expression highlights the dynamic nature of the snail's immune system and its ability to mount specific responses against parasitic threats. Moreover, the study delves into the reproductive system of Biomphalaria snails, shedding light on how parasitic infections can influence reproductive processes. Understanding these interactions is vital as it can inform strategies to disrupt the life cycle of the parasite within the snail host, thereby reducing transmission to humans. The methodologies employed in this study include advanced sequencing technologies and bioinformatics analyses, which have allowed for a comprehensive overview of the snail's genomic and transcriptomic landscapes. By comparing the responses of resistant and susceptible snail lines, the researchers have been able to pinpoint genetic factors that confer resistance to infection, providing potential targets for genetic or biological interventions. In summary, the study conducted by the University of New Mexico offers a detailed examination of the immune and reproductive responses of Biomphalaria snails to S. mansoni and other parasites. By building on previous genomic research[2][3], it provides valuable insights that could pave the way for innovative control strategies against schistosomiasis. Understanding the genetic and molecular basis of snail resistance and susceptibility to parasites is crucial for developing effective measures to combat this debilitating disease.

GeneticsAnimal ScienceMarine Biology


Main Study

1) Different metazoan parasites, different transcriptomic responses, with new insights on parasitic castration by digenetic trematodes in the schistosome vector snail Biomphalaria glabrata

Published 17th June, 2024

Related Studies

2) Compatibility between snails and schistosomes: insights from new genetic resources, comparative genomics, and genetic mapping.

3) A haplotype-like, chromosome-level assembled and annotated genome of Biomphalaria glabrata, an important intermediate host of schistosomiasis and the best studied model of schistosomiasis vector snails.

4) Digenean-gastropod host associations inform on aspects of specific immunity in snails.

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