Peptide hormones and neurotransmitters involved in reproduction and growth have been studied extensively in certain gastropod molluscs, such as Lymnaea stagnalis and Aplysia californica. The present study employs antisera that have been used to study peptidergic neurons in those species to probe the central nervous system of another gastropod, Biomphalaria alexandrina, an intermediate host of the parasitic trematode that causes schistosomiasis in humans. Whole mount preparations of central ganglia were stained immunohistochemically, and several populations of neurons appeared to be homologous to those forming the neuroendocrine axis that has been previously described in L. stagnalis. These cells include the caudodorsal cells and the light green and canopy cells, which produce hormones that regulate ovulation and growth, respectively. Other populations of cells containing APGWamide, FMRFamide and/or related peptides are consistent with ones that innervate the penis in L. stagnalis and other gastropods. Identification of neurons that might be responsible for the control of reproduction and growth in Biomphalaria provides an important initial step toward the development of novel methods of disease control and pest management directed toward reducing snail populations.
Keywords: Growth; Neuroendocrine; Neuropeptide; Reproduction; Schistosomiasis.
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