Exploring snail immunology using the common garden snail

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Watson-Chappell, Erin L.
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Invasive species face a wide variety of obstacles when they move into new areas, including new pathogens and parasites. To survive, invasive species must mount a successful immune response to the new pathogen landscape. Invasive invertebrate species face an additional challenge as they lack an adaptive immune system (B-cells, T-cells, etc), and rely solely on the innate immune system. The common garden snail Cornu aspersum lives in pathogen rich environments and is also a host for several economically significant parasites; and despite these challenges it is a highly successful globally invasive species. Not only is C. aspersum a garden pest and disease vector, it is also has commercial value. C. aspersum is edible, and the mucous is found in many cosmetics, and like many other invertebrates C. aspersum is susceptible to mass die offs when cultured. To date, very little effort has been put into exploring the immune system of this snail. My work focuses on exploring the immune system of C. aspersum by investigating the cellular and protein responses to bacterial and parasitic infection. Impacts of this work include healthier farmed snail population, and a more complete understanding of gastropod disease vectors.