The freshwater snail Biomphalaria glabrata severely impacts global health because it transmits the flatworm parasite Schistosoma mansoni that causes disease in over 200 million people. However, some snails are immunologically resistant and do not transmit but rather destroy the parasite. Accordingly, B. glabrata has been extensively studied to understand parasite-host compatibility. Remarkably, B. glabrata employs somatic mutation of immune genes to dynamically generate variable repertoires of non-self recognition factors. This provides individual snails with a unique immunological identity that may co-determine parasite compatibility. To more comprehensively define what makes this snail a suitable host for S. mansoni, an international consortium characterized the B. glabrata genome. With this information, B. glabrata has become a model organism for interpretation of general snail biology.
Increasingly, next generation sequence datasets are becoming available for comparative analyses to investigate how representative B. glabrata is for all snails, a highly diverse taxon with >80,000 species. Study of the closely related snail Physella acuta indicates that B. glabrata provides an effective framework for general snail biology but unique features may be encountered in separate snail taxa. Such information improves our understanding of how snails reproduce, interact with pathogens and persist in the field.
Nature of Life seminars
Date: 10 April 2018
Time: 15.45 hours
Speaker: Prof. Dr. Coen M. Adema, Center for Evolutionary and Theoretical Immunology, University of New Mexico, USA
Topic: Checking under the shell, the Biomphalaria genome as framework for snail biology
Location: Room F647, W&N building VU Amsterdam