Eric S. Loker: Research

Revealing and Understanding
the World’s Diversity of Schistosome Parasites

An ongoing program has been undertaken to collect schistosome parasites from around the world both snail and vertebrate hosts. Schistosomes are one of the most important groups of eukaryotic parasites in the world. Currently, they infect more than 230 million people, countless domestic animals, and cause swimmer’s itch when people swim in natural water bodies.

Coupled with the techniques of molecular phylogenetics, several new lineages of schistosomes have been revealed, and a better understanding of the limits of the Family Schistosomatidae has been provided. New hypotheses have been proposed regarding the origins and distributions of schistosomes, including those infecting humans.

Ceratophallus natalensis cercaria



Cercaria from a previously unknown lineage of avian schistosomes recovered from the snail Ceratophallus natalensis in Lake Victoria. (Photo by Martina Laidemitt.)