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J Exp Zool. 2002 Oct 15;294(3):252-63.

How trematodes cause limb deformities in amphibians.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8106, USA.


We used trematode cyst infestation to induce limb deformities in two species of frogs of the genus Rana and compared them to deformities induced by surgical limb bud rotations. The specific deformities produced by both treatments closely resemble those of wild-caught deformed amphibians and are consistent with a known developmental response to disruption of the spatial organization of cells in developing limb buds. Histological analysis showed that trematode cysts cause massive disruption and abnormal cellular growth involving the limb buds of infected individuals. Our results indicate that trematode cyst infestation causes deformities in frogs by perturbation of the positional relationships of cells in developing limb buds. The crippling effects of cyst-infection on frogs may reflect complex co-evolutionary interactions among trematodes, frogs, and other hosts in the trematode's life cycle.

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