As one of the most successful invasive land snail species, Achatina (Lissachatina) fulica Bowdich, 1822 has achieved wide global distribution, particularly in (sub)tropical regions, with further dispersal likely due to climate change. This species of giant African snails (up to 17 cm shell length) is a pest that has extensive negative impact on agriculture and can serve as vector for several parasites, including Angiostrongylus cantonensis, a nematode parasite that causes (human) eosinophilic meningitis, an emergent disease. Investigation showed that A. cantonensis infection negatively impacts the metabolism of A. fulica by depleting polysaccharide stores of the intermediate host, compromising the energy balance of the snail. A review of the literature indicates that A. fulica possesses potent innate type immune defenses to counter infection, including phagocytic hemocytes capable of deploying reactive oxygen species and lectins for non-self recognition, a serine protease-dependent coagulation response (not observed in other taxa of gastropods), as well as antimicrobial proteins including achacin, an antimicrobial protein. A recent chromosome level genome assembly will facilitate progressively detailed characterization of these immune features of A. fulica. We strongly encourage further immunological studies of A. fulica, ranging from organismal level to molecular biology to gain better understanding of the A. fulica internal defense response to nematode pathogens like A. cantonensis and the contribution of immune function to the invasiveness of (snail) species. Characterization of immunity of A. fulica, representing the understudied Stylommatophora (panpulmonate landsnails) will also broaden the comparative immunology of Gastropoda.
Dev Comp Immunol (Developmental and comparative immunology)
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