Grooming behavior may play a part in the transmission of the gastrointestinal nematode, Heligomosomoides polygyrus in the mouse host. After infective larvae are placed on individually housed mice, significantly higher numbers of adult worms were recovered from the small intestine of mice that were allowed to self-groom when compared to infection levels in mice that had been lifted with Elizabethan collars to prevent self-grooming. Larvae placed on a single mouse housed with 3 other untreated mice resulted in all mice in the group becoming infected, suggesting that allogrooming may also be important in parasite transmission. A significantly higher percentage of larvae nictate on rough surfaces such as damp peat moss substrate when compared to smooth surfaces such as 0.5% agarose. Mice exposed to larvae placed on peat moss substrate have significantly higher infection levels when compared to mice exposed to larvae on a 0.5% agarose substratum, suggesting that natural transmission of infective L3 larvae in mice may be dependent on a substratum type that allows nictation behavior. A significantly higher percentage of worms were attracted to mouse urine and mouse and rat epidermal lipids when compared to deionized water controls in an in vitro preference assay, suggesting an attraction to host-specific signals. These results support the hypothesis that transmission of this parasite is an active process involving movement of the infective larvae of H. polygyrus into the host's active space where they are ingested during grooming behavior.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics