Parasite-induced alteration of diurnal rhythms in a freshwater snail

Edward P. Levri, Shane J. Lunnen, Carolyn T. Itle, Leocadia Mosquea, Brian V. Kinkade, Travis G. Martin, Monique A. Delisser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The trematode Microphallus sp. alters the behavior of its snail intermediate host, Potamopyrgus antipodarum, in ways that seem to increase transmission to its final host, e.g., waterfowl, and decrease the probability of being eaten by other predators, e.g., fish. The parasite seems to cause the snail to move from the top to the bottom of rocks at about 0900 hr. Waterfowl feed predominantly before 0900 hr, and fish feed predominantly after 0900 hr. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that Microphallus sp.-infected snails exhibit a change in behavior at around 0900 hr by examining their response to light and vertical orientation before and after 0900 hr. Results demonstrated that uninfected snails generally move toward light, oriented downward, and move a greater distance in the light compared with the dark at all times of day. Microphallus sp.-infected snails behaved differently from uninfected snails in the early morning but similarly to uninfected snails in the late morning with regard to downward orientation and distance moved in response to light. Snails infected with parasites other than Microphallus sp. behaved similarly to uninfected snails during both time periods. These results suggest that Microphallus sp. manipulates the behavior of Potamopyrgus sp. by altering rates of movement in response to light and vertical orientation in a manner consistent with the hypothesized 0900-hr shift.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-237
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Parasitology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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