Freshwater Snail
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Freshwater Snail

The mollusk biomphalaria glabrata is a freshwater snail that has a protective shell. The biomaterial shell is composed of calcium carbonate and some matrix proteins. Because the freshwater can reproduce asexually or sexually, the snail can choose to mate or not. It can be found in lakes, swamps, and streams in South America. With only 18 chromosomes, it is consider to have a simple genome.

Underwater Snail: Biomphalaria glabrata

            Biomphalaria glabrata is an interesting freshwater snail that can be found off the coast of South America.  They can be found in ponds and streams.  Because of its big foot and light weighted posture, B. glabrata can walk underneath the water surface.  Mollusk snail contains a protective, brown, colored shell covering its soft mucus body.  The shell is composed of calcium carbonate and less than 10% proteins.  The most familiar form of the crystal calcium carbonate is nacre, or in other words, the mother of pearl.  The development of B. glabrata has distinct stages during its embryonic phases: blastula, gastrula, trochophore, veliger, hippo, and mature.  When the snail hatches from its egg, the snail’s organs, tissues, and any other materials needed for survival has been neatly formed and constructed.  The development is synthesized during the early ages of development so when they are hatched, the snails are a miniature of the adult snail.  And as the freshwater snail continues to grow, the shell of the snail expand and grow as well.

            As mentioned earlier, the embryos of B. glabrata has distinct developmental stages.  During the blastula stage, the cells surround a cavity, and the embryo is about 10 to 30 hours. After 30 hours, the embryo is bigger and is filled with yolk cells.  Tissue layers begin forming and differentiation of the cells happen.  At the trochophore stage, cells start differentiating at the head and foot with distinguishable movements.  The head is fully seen at the veliger stage (90 to 100 hours) as well as the shell.  Twenty hours later at the hippo stage, the snail’s shell is more characterized and the eyes can be seen.  At the last stage before hatching, the snail has lived about 170 hours inside the egg sac. This is called the mature stage. 

            Once hatched, the baby B. glabrata is able to move about with well define motility.  They feed on their rich yolk as they continue to grow until their yolk is done.  In working laboratories, the snails can be feed with organic spinach.  Due to their ability of being able to move upside down underwater they can also feed upside down.  Because the B. glabrata is hermaphroditic, the snails can reproduce asexually or sexually.  And if two snails were to mate, it is the adults who mate not the newborn snails. 

            With only 18 haploid chromosomes in the snail’s genome, this makes them very vulnerable for parasites because their genome is so small.   Such parasites include schistosome that uses the snails as host.  Schistosomes are flatworms, widely known for the female existing within the male.  Not only do they use snails as their living source, they also infect people and cattle.  Despite the fact that parasites can penetrate snails; B. glabrata does have a defensive system against pathogens.  Hemocytes are blood cells released by the hemotopoietic organ which will attack anything foreign.  If the foreign object is larger than the hemocytes, the hemocytes are able to group and work together in a collaborative way to destroy the larger pathogen. 

            These freshwater snails can survive temporally without water, but they can eventually die after a long period.  Even after the snail died, the shell can still exists.  Not only are the shells of B. glabrata an abundant biomaterial, other mollusks with shells are as well. Their shells are really a protective coat.  If a hole is to break through, give it time and the shell will recover back to normal.  Even though the B. glabrata are host for schitstosome, the snails do have a defense system for protection. The marine snail, biomphalaria glabrata can live for about two years, but their lifespan does vary accordingly to their environment.  B. glabrata are born fully developed and has the ability to mate with itself.  It does not take long for the eggs to hatch because their embryonic stages last about a week.  This underwater creature will continue to grow and expand as long as it lives. 

            

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