Basic Life Science Research Associate, Biology
Early malacological literature suggests that the outbreak of schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease transmitted by aquatic snails, in the Senegal River basin occurred due to ecological changes resulting from the construction of the Diama dam. The common treatment, the drug praziquantel, does not protect from the high risk of re-infection due to human contact with infested water on a daily basis. The construction of the dam interfered with the life cycle of the prawn Macrobrachium vollenhovenii by blocking its access to breeding grounds in the estuary. These prawns were demonstrated to be potential biological control agents, being effective predators of Schistosoma-susceptible snails. Here, we propose a responsible restocking strategy using all-male prawn populations which could provide sustainable disease control. Male prawns reach a larger size and have a lower tendency to migrate than females. We, therefore, expect that periodic restocking of all-male juveniles will decrease the prevalence of schistosomiasis and increase villagers' welfare. In this interdisciplinary study, we examined current prawn abundance along the river basin, complemented with a retrospective questionnaire completed by local fishermen. We revealed the current absence of prawns upriver and thus demonstrated the need for restocking. Since male prawns are suggested to be preferable for bio-control, we laid the molecular foundation for production of all-male M. vollenhovenii through a complete sequencing of the insulin-like androgenic gland-encoding gene (IAG), which is responsible for sexual differentiation in crustaceans. We also conducted bioinformatics and immunohistochemistry analyses to demonstrate the similarity of this sequence to the IAG of another Macrobrachium species in which neo-females are produced and their progeny are 100% males. At least 100 million people at risk of schistosomiasis are residents of areas that experienced water management manipulations. Our suggested non-breeding sustainable model of control-if proven successful-could prevent re-infections and thus prove useful throughout the world.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pntd.0003060
View details for PubMedID 25166746
Human schistosomiasis is a common parasitic disease endemic in many tropical and subtropical countries. One barrier to achieving long-term control of this disease has been re-infection of treated patients when they swim, bathe, or wade in surface fresh water infested with snails that harbor and release larval parasites. Because some snail species are obligate intermediate hosts of schistosome parasites, removing snails may reduce parasitic larvae in the water, reducing re-infection risk. Here, we evaluate the potential for snail control by predatory freshwater prawns, Macrobrachium rosenbergii and M. vollenhovenii, native to Asia and Africa, respectively. Both prawn species are high value, protein-rich human food commodities, suggesting their cultivation may be beneficial in resource-poor settings where few other disease control options exist. In a series of predation trials in laboratory aquaria, we found both species to be voracious predators of schistosome-susceptible snails, hatchlings, and eggs, even in the presence of alternative food, with sustained average consumption rates of 12% of their body weight per day. Prawns showed a weak preference for Bulinus truncatus over Biomphalaria glabrata snails. Consumption rates were highly predictable based on the ratio of prawn: snail body mass, suggesting satiation-limited predation. Even the smallest prawns tested (0.5-2g) caused snail recruitment failure, despite high snail fecundity. With the World Health Organization turning attention toward schistosomiasis elimination, native prawn cultivation may be a viable snail control strategy that offers a win-win for public health and economic development.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.actatropica.2013.12.013
View details for Web of Science ID 000334001100009
View details for PubMedID 24388955