It has previously been postulated that L-arginine emitted by penetrating Schistosoma mansoni cercariae serves as an intraspecific signal guiding other cercariae to the penetration site. It was suggested that penetrating in groups offers a selective advantage. If this hypothesis is correct and group penetration at one site on the host offers an advantage, it would follow that at such a site, successive groups of cercariae would be able to penetrate skin in either greater numbers or at a faster rate. This prediction was tested by the use of an in vitro model of cercarial penetration based on the Franz cell and using human skin. It was demonstrated that there was no increase in the percentage of cercariae able to penetrate the skin with subsequent exposures. Consequently, it seems unlikely that the release of L-arginine by cercariae during penetration could have evolved as a specific orientation system based on a selective advantage offered by group penetration.
- CHEMICAL STIMULI