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Parasitol Int. 2006 Dec;55(4):249-60. Epub 2006 Aug 8.

Phenotypic analysis of adults of Fasciola hepatica, Fasciola gigantica and intermediate forms from the endemic region of Gilan, Iran.

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  • 1Department of Medical Microbiology and Parasitology, School of Medicine, Gilan University of Medical Sciences, Gilan University Complex, Rasht, Iran.


Fascioliasis is an important human and animal disease caused by Fasciola hepatica and Fasciola gigantica. In Iran, the distribution of these two species overlaps in most areas, including the northern human endemic province of Gilan where both fasciolids are simultaneously found in individual cattle and buffaloes. A phenotypic study of fasciolid adult flukes from naturally infected bovines from Gilan was carried out by means of an exhaustive morphometric analysis using traditional microscopic measurements and an allometric model. The Iranian fasciolids were compared to F. hepatica and F. gigantica standard populations, i.e. from geographical areas where both species do not co-exist (Bolivia and Burkina Faso, respectively). Although morphometric values somewhat overlapped, there were clear differences in allometric growth. The allometric function was adjusted to 25 pairs of variables. Results obtained revealed that Iranian F. hepatica-like specimens are larger than the F. hepatica standard and Iranian F. gigantica-like specimens are longer and narrower than the F. gigantica standard, but with smaller body area. Measurements which permit a specific differentiation in allopatric populations (distance between ventral sucker and posterior end of the body; ratio between body length and body width) overlap in the specimens from Gilan, thus proving the presence of intermediate forms. When compared to the standard populations, the different Iranian fasciolid morphs show greater differences in F. gigantica-like specimens than in F. hepatica-like specimens. This study shows that simple, traditional microscopic measurements may be sufficient for the morphometric characterisation of fasciolids, even in areas where intermediate forms are present.

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