Circadian pattern of cercarial emergence in Schistosoma mansoni (Platyhelminthes:Digenea) from isolated Biomphalaria glabrata

Chronobiol Int. 1996 Jul;13(2):93-101. doi: 10.3109/07420529609037073.


The present work aimed to compare the acrophases (peak hours) of emergence of Schistosoma mansoni cercariae among isolated individuals of the snail Biomphalaria glabrata. Laboratory stocks of melanic B. glabrata from the same biotope as the S. mansoni strain (Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais) were used. Twenty-two snails individually exposed to five miracidia were tested. Chronobiological trials were performed outdoors after an acclimation period of at least a week. Three groups of snails were tested between November 1989 and April 1991. Cercarial emergence from individual isolated snails was quantified every 3 h for 3 consecutive days. In all trials, most cercariae were found to emerge during daytime (94.9%). Time series and chronograms showed recurrent peaks during the daytime. The periodogram suggested that 24 h was the period that best fitted cercarial emergence data in 90.9% of the snails. The single cosinor analysis confirmed 24-h rhythms in 95.5% of the snails. Acrophases of cercarial emergence among individual snails occurred between 14:15 and 17:02. They did not differ significantly. The population cosinor analysis indicated greater homogeneity in the 24-h rhythms of cercarial emergence than in the snail groups of each chronobiological trial. Acrophases of cercarial emergence occurred between 14:53 and 15:27 and did not differ significantly among all trials. Data from the three trials were pooled and analyzed using the population cosinor. This statistical method indicated a homogeneity in the 24-h rhythms of cercarial. emergence from all snails, with acrophase occurring around 15:00. Results showed that the acrophases of cercarial emergence of S. mansoni are similar among isolated B. glabrata specimens. Data support the hypothesis of a "gate" rhythm in the dynamics of cercarial production and emergence. It is suggested that the adaptive importance of the "gate" mechanism is associated with the concentration of cercariae in the water at times when the vertebrate is present, optimizing the contact between the parasite and the host. The emergence of some cercariae at night (5.1% of the total number of emerged cercariae) suggests a flexible "gate" that could be associated with a residual light effect or with experimental procedures in the laboratory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization
  • Animals
  • Biomphalaria / parasitology*
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Larva
  • Light
  • Schistosoma mansoni / growth & development
  • Schistosoma mansoni / isolation & purification
  • Schistosoma mansoni / physiology*