Curious facts about the rumen fluke Calicophoron daubneyi

Another week nearly over with a brilliant bank holiday weekend on the horizon (I know I have been very grateful for the glorious sun!). Well done if you are managing to work through the obstacles coming our way at the moment. Here at RRL we are still here, still open and still working to ensure that we are following all guidelines. We have fully incorporated the governments risk assessments for laboratories and research facilities, ensuring our staff are as safe as possible and we are still able to offer our services as normal. Customers are still at the forefront of our thoughts.


We’re still here!

It is probable that many of our customers will now be returing to the workplace and thus if you would like to place a parasite order for your research or study, then please go ahead and do so. We are taking orders for all parasites listed on our website, however please be aware supply will be first come first served. Please take into consideration that we are working shifts and limiting personnel in an air space so if you can give us reasonable notice ahead of your required devleiry date, that would really help us.

Similarly, we are still running our parasite diagnostic services, such as feacal egg counts. Please send these in as per normal procedure (see here for how to) but note cheques should be made payable to Ridgeway Research Ltd.

Now…on to the good stuff, some really interesting facts about one of the parasites we culture on site. Our rumen fluke go through their entire life cycle at RRL!


Rumen Fluke (Calicophoron daubneyi)

The rumen or stomach fluke has been recognised as an increasingly important parasite of ruminant livestock over the past decade. Researchers are still seeking to understand the biology and significance of the parasite, and as is the case with many parasites, this understanding may change over time. Here are some fascinating facts about what makes rumen fluke unique:

  • Distinct from most parasites that occupy a location in the gastrointestinal tract, rumen fluke move up the gastrointestinal tract as they mature. Immature fluke found in the small intestine make their way to the first stomach or rumen where they develop into adults 
  • Adult rumen fluke may themselves produce propionate and may thereby contribute to ruminal acidosis by decreasing the ratio of acetate to propionate in the rumen
  • There is some evidence that rumen fluke may have a negative effect on the host. In a comparison of cattle with and without rumen fluke, cattle with rumen fluke had significantly lower cold carcass weight and fat coverage than uninfected cattle
  • The stage that is infective to sheep and cattle, the metacercaria survives for only about a quarter as long as the liver fluke metacercaria
  • The presence of rumen fluke in the rumen may cause atrophy of the ruminal papillae and thus may reduce the surface area available in the rumen for absorption of nutrients
  • The lower acetate to propionate ratio caused by rumen fluke may result in a reduction in the emission of the greenhouse gas methane
  •  The presence of a large number of immature rumen fluke can cause death in adult sheep
  • Microscopically rumen fluke eggs are more difficult to see than liver fluke eggs as they are colourless whereas liver fluke eggs are a golden colour
  • Apart from colour, liver fluke and rumen fluke eggs are similar in size and appearance and so may be mistaken for one another by the inexperienced eye
  • Diagnosis of disease caused by immature fluke relies on post mortem examination as only adult fluke produce eggs that can be detected in the faeces

References

K M. Huson et al., 2018. Polyomic tools for an emerging livestock parasite, the rumen fluke Calicophoron daubneyi; identifying shifts in rumen functionality. Parasites and Vectors 11 617

Mason, C., Stevenson, H., Cox, A., Dick, I., Rodger, C., 2012. Disease associated with immature paramphistome infection in sheep. Vet. Rec. 170,343–344.