Characterisation of Nematoda and Digenea in selected Australian freshwater snails

Shokoofeh Shamsi, Alice Banfield, Nidhish Francis, Diane P. Barton, Matthew McLellan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Freshwater snails are integral to local ecosystems as a primary food source for various vertebrate species, thereby contributing significantly to ecological food webs. However, their role as intermediate hosts also makes them pivotal in the transmission of parasites. In Australia, research on freshwater snails has predominantly focused on their role as intermediate hosts for livestock parasites, while there has been limited exploration of the impact of these parasites on snail health and population dynamics. The aim of this study was to determine parasitic infection in freshwater snails. This study was conducted in the south-eastern region of Australia, in 2022. A total of 163 freshwater snails from four different species were collected and examined in the Murrumbidgee catchment area in the southeastern part of Australia during the Southern Hemisphere summer and autumn months (February to May). The species included Isidorella hainesii, Glyptophysa novaehollandica, Bullastra lessoni (endemic species), and Physella acuta (an introduced species). Through the analysis of sequence data from the various regions of the nuclear ribosomal DNA, we determined that the Digenea species in this study belonged to three distinct species, including Choanocotyle hobbsi, Petasiger sp. and an unidentified species belonging to Plagiorchioidea. Additionally, analysis of the sequences from Nematoda found in this study, revealed they could be categorized into two separate taxa, including Krefftascaris sp. and an unidentified nematode closely associated with plant and soil nematodes. This research holds significant implications for the future understanding and conservation of Australian freshwater ecosystems. Most parasites found in the present study complete their life cycle in snails and turtles. As many of freshwater snail and turtle species in Australia are endemic and face population threats, exploring the potential adverse impacts of parasitic infections on snail and turtle health, is crucial for advancing our understanding of these ecosystems and also paving the way for future research and conservation efforts. While none of the native snail species in the present study have been listed as endangered or threatened, this may simply be attributed to the absence of regular population surveys.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108116
JournalJournal of Invertebrate Pathology
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024


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