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The Role of Schistosoma mansoni Males in Feeding and Development of Female Worms

B. C. Gupta and Paul F. Basch
The Journal of Parasitology
Vol. 73, No. 3 (Jun., 1987), pp. 481-486
DOI: 10.2307/3282125
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3282125
Page Count: 6
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The Role of Schistosoma mansoni Males in Feeding and Development of Female Worms
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Abstract

Female Schistosoma mansoni from unisexual infections have scant pharyngeal musculature, thin intestinal cecal walls, pale and scanty intestinal contents, and lack acidic thiol proteinase digestive enzyme as determined by indirect immunofluorescence using a monoclonal antibody. Their intake of host erythrocytes, measured by 51Cr labeling, is about one-fourth that of paired adult females, and they appear to be starved. In contrast, paired adult females have heavier pharyngeal musculature and intestinal cecal walls and abundant digestive enzyme in the anterior third of their intestinal tract. Females in worm pairs surgically transplanted into uninfected mice continued to feed, but separated females were carried into the liver and deteriorated. Adult female S. mansoni, newly separated from their male partners and incubated in vitro with labeled erythrocytes, ingested marginally fewer cells than did still-paired females, indicating their ability to continue feeding almost normally at least for a period after separation. Paired and ex-paired adult females declined similarly in feeding rate with increased time in vitro. In Schistosomatium douthitti, females grow and mature without males, the pharyngeal musculature and cecal walls are well developed, the gut is full of ingested blood, and the acidic thiol proteinase is present in both unisexual and paired female worms. There are different stimulatory pathways for growth and for reproductive maturation in S. mansoni, although both processes require physical contact with the male. We believe that the growth-stimulating function results from the muscular action of the clasping male, which helps the immature female to pump blood into her intestine, thereby overcoming a state of relative starvation.

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