A panel of 4 digenetic trematode species (Echinostoma paraensei, E. trivolvis, Schistosoma mansoni, and Schistosomatium douthitti) and 5 snail species (Biomphalaria glabrata, Helisoma trivolvis, Lymnaea stagnalis, Stagnicola elodes, and Helix aspersa) was examined to determine if known patterns of host specificity could be explained by the tendency of digenean larvae to be bound by snail hemocytes, or by the ability of larvae to influence the spreading behavior of hemocytes. In short-term (1 hr) in vitro adherence assays, there was no overall pattern to suggest that sporocysts were more likely to be bound by hemocytes from incompatible than compatible snails. Compared with the other parasites, sporocysts of E. paraensei were less likely to be bound by hemocytes from any of the snail species tested. All rediae examined, including those of another species Echinoparyphium sp., were also remarkably refractory to binding by hemocytes from any of the snails. Of all the larvae examined, only sporocysts and young daughter rediae of E. paraensei caused hemocytes to round up in their presence. This was true for hemocytes from the compatible species B. glabrata and the incompatible lymnaeid species S. elodes and L. stagnalis. The patterns of host specificity shown by this particular panel of parasites and snails were not predicted by either the extent of hemocyte adherence to digenean larvae or by the ability of larvae to affect hemocyte spreading behavior. The results of this study suggest that a role for hemocytes, although likely, may require different assays, possibly of a more prolonged nature, for its detection. Also, different parasite species (notably E. paraensei) and intramolluscan stages have distinctive interactions with host hemocytes, suggesting that the determinants of specificity vary with the host–parasite combination, and with the parasite life cycle stage.
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