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Int J Parasitol. 2000 Apr 24;30(5):573-8.

Allopatric combination of Fasciola hepatica and Lymnaea truncatula is more efficient than sympatric ones.

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Parasitología y Enfermedades Parasitarias, Departamento de Patología Animal, Universidad de Santiago, Facultad de Veterinaria, 27071, Lugo, Spain.


Parasites are capable of rapid evolutionary changes relative to their hosts, due to short life cycle, short generation time, and high fecundity. The direction of the evolution of parasite virulence can be studied in cross-transfer experiments, combining hosts and parasites from different localities, and comparing the outcome of established (sympatric and potentially locally adapted) and novel (allopatric) combinations of hosts and parasites. We aimed to compare the compatibility with snails hosts, the infectivity of metacercariae in rabbits and rats, and the fitness among different combinations (French-FF and Spanish-SS sympatries and allopatry-FS). The first isolate of Fasciola hepatica and its corresponding intermediate host, Lymnaea truncatula originated from Lugo's northwestern Spain. The second isolate of parasite and snail was collected in the Limoges area in central France. The Spanish snails were more susceptible to their sympatric trematode than the French snails. The Spanish flukes were more infective to intermediate hosts (snails) than the French flukes, but subsequent definitive hosts (rats or rabbits) infections remained similar. The estimated fitness was low in sympatric infections and highly similar (from 4.7 to 5.3). The fitness similarity corresponds, however, to different variations in life-history traits that could represent different strategies among the host-parasite local combinations. The infection rate in snails, metacercarial productivity, metacercarial infectivity, and the estimated fitness were better for allopatric combination (FS). The susceptibility data showed a higher efficiency of flukes in the allopatric snail population than in their local snail population. However, our results were obtained after one generation and from a single isolate and it remains to be determined if all allopatric fluke-snail isolates may present a better fitness. Nevertheless our results indicate that introduction of liver fluke-infected cattle should be monitored carefully, as it could result in the introduction of more efficient parasites.

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