The furcocystocercous cercariae of the digenetic trematode, Proterometra macrostoma, possess a tail chamber into which its distome body withdraws prior to emergence from its snail intermediate host. The process of distome retraction and the conditions that trigger it in this species are not clear. The objectives of the present study were (1) to describe the retraction process in P. macrostoma; (2) to assess whether osmolality affects cercarial retraction; (3) to evaluate the effect of selected ions on retraction; and (4) to compare the swimming effectiveness of naturally (5 in vivo) retracted versus in vitro retracted cercariae. Retraction of the cercaria body into its tail chamber required only 2 min or less once initiated. The process began with the development of a chamber within the anterior end of the worm’s tail. The chamber’s lip advanced in a pulsating motion over the stationary distome. Retraction was completed with the constriction and fusion of the chamber lip once it passed over the anterior end of the distome, sealing the latter within the tail chamber. There was a significant difference in the proportions of cercariae with bodies retracted into tails, bodies not retracted, and bodies separated from tails in artificial pond water (APW) versus artificial snail water (ASW).
A greater number of cercariae withdrew into their tail chambers in ASW (59/124; 47.6%) than in APW (21/124; 16.9%). In APW, more bodies separated from their tails (24/124; 19.4%) than in ASW (3/124; 2.4%). In both solutions (APW: 63.7% 5 79/124; ASW: 50% 5 62/124), a majority of cercariae never retracted. In APW, 76.2% of distomes retracting into their tails did so within the first 5 min compared to only 30.5% in ASW. There was no significant difference in the proportions of cercariae with bodies retracted into tails, bodies not retracted, and bodies separated from tails based on isosmotic replacement of individual ions, i.e., Na+, K+, Ca++, or Mg++, in ASW with Li+. There was also no significant difference in the vertical swimming burst distance in cercariae whose bodies were initially retracted into their tails in vitro versus in vivo.
PDF of paper: Proterometra Macrostoma Retraction Paper