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A comprehensive survey of larval digenean trematodes and their snail hosts in central Alberta, Canada

Abstract

Digenean trematode distributions, compatibility profiles with their snail hosts, and complete life cycles remain mysteries in many parts of the world. Surveys of digenean biology and ecology provide further insight and perspective into just how incredibly diverse and important helminth parasites are in shaping local ecosystems. Past surveys have provided substantial characterizations of adult digeneans within their definitive hosts, and many now have contributed toward furthering our understanding of larval digeneans within their intermediate host communities. However, much information about the diversity of digeneans and their relationships with their snail intermediate hosts are lacking in many locations across the globe. This is certainly true in Canada, where few records related to digenean-snail relationships exist. Currently, there is a need for more information about the presence and distribution of digeneans across Canada, and how this compares to other parts of North America and beyond. To address this diversity gap in Western Canada, six lakes within central Alberta were surveyed for the presence of snails and larval digenean species and their associations. This investigation into the diversity of digeneans utilized a combined approach of morphological and molecular tools to identify 39 digenean species among five snail host species, from biweekly collections, taken over the course of 2 years (2013–2014). Here, digenean-snail combinations, presence, and distribution across sampling sites and lakes are reported. Overall, this survey contributes new information toward digenean-snail compatibility, life cycles, and distribution in Northern lake ecosystems within North America.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Alethe Kabore, Emmanuel Pila, Walter Gordy, and Sheila Merritt for their assistance in field collections. Special thanks to Zhuoyan Song and Dr. Lien Luong for help with statistical analyses and R programming, and to W. Gordy for help with Python programming to make data analysis more efficient. We thank Dr. Luong and the reviewers for their editorial assistance. This work was funded by Alberta Innovates Energy and Environment Solutions grant 2078 and NSERC 418540 (PCH).

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Correspondence to Patrick C. Hanington.

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Supplementary Figure 1

Venn diagrams of unique and shared species. a) Represents the numbers of digenean species unique and shared across lakes, adjusted to only include lakes Wabamun, Isle, Gull, and Buffalo. B) Represents the numbers of unique and shared digenean species across snail species. (GIF 70 kb)

High resolution image (TIF 543 kb)

Supplementary Figure 2

Frequency heat-map table of snail and digenean combinations found in central Alberta lakes. Rows describe digenean species and the number found to be infecting each snail species as distinguished by columns. The dotted line separates the samples from which there is sequence information on the top from those in which descriptions are based on morphology alone on the bottom. Column titles: Ht = Helisoma trivolvis, Pa = Planorbula armigera*, Pg = Physella gyrina, Ls = Lymnaea stagnalis, and Se = Stagnicola elodes. (GIF 354 kb)

High resolution image (TIF 22036 kb)

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Gordy, M.A., Kish, L., Tarrabain, M. et al. A comprehensive survey of larval digenean trematodes and their snail hosts in central Alberta, Canada. Parasitol Res 115, 3867–3880 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-016-5152-9

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Keywords

  • Alberta
  • Digenean trematode
  • Freshwater snail
  • Survey
  • Diversity
  • Host-parasite associations