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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 122:237-245 (2017)  -  DOI:

Behavioral analysis of Microphallus turgidus cercariae in relation to microhabitat of two host grass shrimp species (Palaemonetes spp.)

Patricia A. O’Leary1,2,*, Oscar J. Pung1

1Department of Biology, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Georgia 30458, USA
2Present address: Department of Aquatic Health Sciences, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, PO Box 1346, State Route 1208, Gloucester Point, Virginia 23062, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The behavior of Microphallus turgidus cercariae was examined and compared to microhabitat selection of the second intermediate hosts of the parasite, Palaemonetes spp. grass shrimp. Cercariae were tested for photokinetic and geotactic responses, and a behavioral ethogram was established for cercariae in control and grass shrimp-conditioned brackish water. Photokinesis trials were performed using a half-covered Petri dish, and geotaxis trials used a graduated cylinder. Both photokinesis and geotaxis trials were performed in lighted and unlighted conditions. In 9 of 10 photokinesis experiments, over half of the cercariae swam horizontally under the covered half of a Petri dish in both the lighted and the unlighted trials. However, movement of the cercariae to the covered half of the dish was highest (81.4%) when the parasites were exposed to light. In the geotaxis study, most cercariae were found in the bottom third of a graduated cylinder water column in both the lighted and unlighted trials. The most frequently observed activity of individual cercariae in a lighted Petri dish was swimming on the bottom of the dish. Activity patterns of the cercariae were not affected by shrimp-conditioned water. Movement of the cercariae away from light into dark, active swimming at or near the bottom of the water column, and a lack of response to host odors suggest that the cercariae utilize search patterns that place the parasite in the preferred microhabitat of the principle second intermediate host, the grass shrimp P. pugio.

KEY WORDS: Palaemonetes pugio · Palaemonetes vulgaris · Photokinesis · Geotaxis · Ethogram

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Cite this article as: O’Leary PA, Pung OJ (2017) Behavioral analysis of Microphallus turgidus cercariae in relation to microhabitat of two host grass shrimp species (Palaemonetes spp.). Dis Aquat Org 122:237-245.

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