The role of oxygen availability in the embryonation of Heterakis gallinarum eggs

L. M. Saunders, D. M. Tompkins, P. J. Hudson

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The importance of oxygen availability in the embryonation of the infective egg stages of the gastrointestinal nematode parasite Heterakis gallinarum was studied in the laboratory. Unembryonated H. gallinarum eggs were kept under either aerobic conditions by gassing with oxygen, or anaerobic conditions by gassing with the inert gas nitrogen, under a range of constant temperatures. Oxygenated eggs embryonated at a rate influenced by temperature. Conversely, eggs treated with nitrogen showed no embryonation although when these eggs were transferred from nitrogen to oxygen gas after 60 days of treatment, embryonation occurred. This demonstrated that oxygen is an essential requirement for H. gallinarum egg development, although undeveloped eggs remain viable, even after 60 days in low oxygen conditions. The effects of climate on the biology of free-living stages studied under constant laboratory conditions cannot be applied directly to the field where climatic factors exhibit daily cycles. The effect of fluctuating temperature on development was investigated by including an additional temperature group in which H. gallinarum eggs were kept under daily temperature cycles between 12 and 22°C. Cycles caused eggs to develop significantly earlier than those in the constant mean cycle temperature, 17°C, but significantly slower than those in constant 22°C suggesting that daily temperature cycles had an accelerating effect on H. gallinarum egg embryonation but did not accelerate to the higher temperature. These results suggest that daily fluctuations in temperature influence development of the free-living stages and so development cannot be accurately predicted on the basis of constant temperature culture. Copyright (C) 2000 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1481-1485
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology
Issue number14
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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