Snail defence responses to parasite infection : the 'Lymnaea stagnalis-Trichobilharzia szidati' model

Skala, Vladimir, Walker, Anthony J. and Horak, Petr (2020) Snail defence responses to parasite infection : the 'Lymnaea stagnalis-Trichobilharzia szidati' model. Developmental & Comparative Immunology, 102, p. 103464. ISSN (print) 0145-305X


'Lymnaea stagnalis' is a common freshwater gastropod. Importantly, the snail serves as the intermediate host for more than one hundred species of digenetic trematodes, including the avian schistosome 'Trichobilharzia szidati', a causative agent of cercarial dermatitis in humans. Infection of 'L. stagnalis' by 'T. szidati' initiates a dynamic confrontation between the host and the parasite that culminates in immunocompatibility ensuring survival and development of larvae. Unfortunately, the molecular mechanisms determining this immunocompatibility remain poorly characterised. By employing a variety of immune elicitors, including chemical compounds, PAMPs and bacteria, research in the last two decades has elucidated some of the molecular processes that regulate the snail internal defence response such as haemocyte signalling pathways. These discoveries provide a framework for future studies of molecular interactions between 'T. szidati' and 'L. stagnalis' to help elucidate factors and mechanisms enabling transmission of schistosome parasites. Moreover, support from recently available next generation sequence data and CRISPR-enabled functional genomics should further enable 'L. stagnalis' as an important model for comparative immunology and contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of immune functions in gastropod molluscs.

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