Apple snails (Ampullariidae) are among the largest and most ecologically important freshwater snails. The introduction of multiple species has reinvigorated the field and spurred a burgeoning body of research since the early 1990s, particularly regarding two species introduced to Asian wetlands and elsewhere, where they have become serious agricultural pests. This review places these recent advances in the context of previous work, across diverse fields ranging from phylogenetics and biogeography through ecology and developmental biology, and the more applied areas of environmental health and human disease. The review does not deal with the role of ampullariids as pests, nor their control and management, as this has been substantially reviewed elsewhere. Despite this large and diverse body of research, significant gaps in knowledge of these important snails remain, particularly in a comparative framework. The great majority of the work to date concerns a single species, Pomacea canaliculata, which we see as having the potential to become a model organism in a wide range of fields. However, additional comparative data are essential for understanding this diverse and potentially informative group. With the rapid advances in genomic technologies, many questions, seemingly intractable two decades ago, can be addressed, and ampullariids will provide valuable insights to our understanding across diverse fields in integrative biology.
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Vol. 58 • No. 1–2