Changes of mate occur in Schistosoma mansoni

Abstract

Male and female schistosomes are generally assumed to form stable monogamous pairs for the whole span of their long existence in the mammalian host. Recent evidence from mixed infections has shown that Schistosoma mansoni males can displace S. intercalatum males from their homologous partners, but no information exists about the existence of similar phenomena within a single schistosome species. Here, we determine whether male S. mansoni can displace males of the same species from pre-formed pairs in vivo. The availability of clear-cut genetic markers of drug resistance in schistosomes was exploited to show that hycanthone sensitive S. mansoni males can displace homospecific hycanthone resistant males from pre-formed pairs and vice versa. The frequency of changes is dependent on the magnitude of the excess single males competing with paired worms. The possible mechanics and the biological significance of mate changing are discussed.

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