Behavioural adaptation of the tapeworm Hymenolepis diminuta to its environment

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9 Scopus citations


Hymenolepis diminuta migrates up the small intestine in response to feeding the host 1 g of glucose. Locomotion during migration may result from fixed patterns of retrograde peristaltic-like waves in the strobila of the tapeworm which propel the organism against the normal expulsive forces in the small intestine. The peristaltic-like locomotory waves occur in a gradient along the strobila with a frequency of 24.9 ± 0.9 cycles/min in the anterior segments of the worm, decreasing linearly to 6.6 ±1.4 cycles/min in the posterior segments of the worm. Chemical signals, isolated from the small intestine of fed hosts, which stimulate migration behaviour in vivo do not alter the behaviour of the scolex or strobila in vitro. Removal of the scolex containing the cerebral ganglia does not alter the frequency or pattern of locomotory activity in the strobila. After the worm is cut into pieces, each region generates the pattern of locomotory activity that is appropriate for that region. These data suggest that the peripheral nervous system, and not the central nervous system, is responsible for the coordination of the fixed patterns of locomotory activity in these tapeworms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-336
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Infectious Diseases


  • fixed behaviours
  • ganglia
  • habitat selection
  • tapeworm


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