Host response to parasite exposure is an important determinant of the outcome of host–parasite interactions. Factors such as host body condition and age can strongly influence host response to parasites and infection. This study followed Echinostoma revolutum infection levels in larval green frogs (Rana clamitans) exposed at 2 different ages. Tadpoles at early developmental stages are more susceptible to the adverse effects of echinostomes. Green frog tadpoles approximately 2 wk apart in age and of the same developmental stage can exhibit dramatically different responses to echinostome infection, with the younger tadpoles having high rates of mortality and the older tadpoles experiencing no mortality. The goal of the present study was to begin to explore the mechanism underlying the striking age-dependent response of tadpoles to echinostomes. I conducted 2 controlled infection laboratory experiments in which tadpoles were preserved at 6 time points ranging from 4 hr to 1 wk post-infection (PI). Tadpoles infected at the younger age did not eliminate echinostome metacercariae. However, tadpoles that were 13 days older at the time of echinostome exposure steadily eliminated metacercariae during the hours and days PI. The absence of echinostome cyst elimination in the younger tadpoles likely contributes to their elevated, infection-induced mortality rates.
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