An improved technique for measuring the water content of nematodes is described using an electronic interferometer. Changes in phase of a laser beam passing through a known pathlength of the nematode have been used to measure the refractive index and hence the water content and relative volume of the animal. Third-stage larvae of Nippostrongylus brasiliensis and Haemonchus contortus which possess an excretory ampulla, differed from second-stage larvae lacking this ampulla in requiring a greater fall in the osmolarity of artificial tap water before there was a significant increase in their water content. Increases in the pulsation frequency of the ampulla also occurred in less hypotonic solutions than those required to increase the water content of the third-stage larvae. The ampulla pulsation frequency of third-stage larvae of N. brasiliensis increased after locomotor activity in hypotonic tap water and locomotory wave frequency of third-stage larvae of N. brasiliensis was independent of the extent of hypotonicity for a range of solutions that reduced wave propogation by its second-stage larva. The results suggest that the ampulla is an adaptation to hypotonic conditions favouring a volume homeostasis that is required for optimal locomotor activity of the third-stage infective larvae of these nematodes.
Experimental Parasitology 11/1981; 52(2):191-8. DOI:10.1016/0014-4894(81)90074-6