• Gastropod;
  • Cadmium;
  • Metal resistance;
  • Parasite resistance;
  • Genetic difference


Phenotypes that are either resistant or susceptible to infection by the trematode parasite Schistosoma mansont exist in the tropical freshwater snail Biomphalaria glabrata. We tested the hypothesis that a cost of parasite resistance in B. glabrata is greater sensitivity to cadmium toxicity, using parasite-resistant and parasite-susceptible strains exposed to cadmium in the laboratory. Survival analysis showed that time to death for cadmium was significantly shorter in eggs, juveniles, and adults of the parasite-resistant BS90 strain in comparison with the parasite-susceptible NMRI strain. Cadmium exposure increased time to hatch in both strains, but the effect was greater in BS90. Percentage hatch decreased with increased cadmium; BS90 was again more sensitive than NMRI. Comparison of the median effective concentration (EC50) for hatching and median lethal concentrations (LC50s) for survival of juveniles and adults showed that the order for cadmium resistance was adults > juveniles > eggs in NMRI and adults > eggs > juveniles in BS90. Cadmium resistance of F1 and F2 progeny of BS90/NMRI crosses was intermediate to that of parental strains. Numerical estimates indicated that a single genetic factor was responsible for the difference in cadmium resistance in the two strains. These findings were consistent with the hypothesis that greater sensitivity to cadmium is a cost of resisting parasitic infection.