Freshening rather than warming drives trematode transmission from periwinkles to mussels

Claudia Bommarito*, Christian Pansch, Maral Khosravi, Fabio Pranovi, Martin Wahl, David W. Thieltges

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
41 Downloads (Pure)


In the Western Baltic Sea, climate change is happening at much faster rate than in most other seas and organisms are additionally exposed to a steep and variable salinity gradient. Climate change has previously been shown to affect parasite transmission in other marine ecosystems, yet little is known about potential effects of warming and desalination on parasite–host interactions. In laboratory experiments, we determined the combined effects of projected seawater warming and freshening on the emergence, activity, survival, and infectivity of cercariae (free-swimming infectious stage) of the trematode Himasthla elongata (Mehlis 1831), shed from its first intermediate host, the periwinkle Littorina littorea (Linnaeus 1758), in the Baltic Sea. We also assessed the susceptibility of the second intermediate host, the mussel Mytilus edulis Linnaeus, 1758, to cercarial infections. Generally, salinity was the main driver, particularly of cercarial activity, infectivity, and mussel susceptibility to infection. At the lowest salinity (13), cercariae were 50% less active compared to the highest salinity (19). Infection success and host susceptibility followed a similar pattern, with 47% and 43% less metacercariae (encysted stage) present at salinity 13 than at salinity 19, respectively. In contrast, effects of simulated warming were found only for cercarial survival, with cercarial longevity being higher at 19 than at 23 °C. No significant interactions between temperature and salinity were found. In contrast to the literature, the results suggest that a climate change-driven freshening (partly also warming) may lead to a general decline of marine trematodes, with possible beneficial effects for the involved hosts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number46
JournalMarine Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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